BILL WOULD REDUCE NUMBER OF END OF COURSE EXAMS
|Senator Brian Birdwell of Granbury welcomed Heisman Trophy winner and former Baylor Bear Robert Griffin III to the Senate on Tuesday morning.|
(AUSTIN) — Students would only have to take five or six end of course exams rather than the currently mandated 15 under a bill debated by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. Student assessment has been a sticky issue for lawmakers for a number of years, with assessment measures changing often. The TAAS, TEKS, and TAKS tests have all been replaced and now 15 end of course exams are the primary measure of student achievement and progress. But many in the Capitol and in local communities feel this places too much of a burden on students, and that teachers are restricted to lesson plans that emphasize material from the end of course exams.
The bill author, Education Committee Chair Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, recognized that finding what number of end of course exams works best for students and teachers will be a challenge. He pointed out that while his bill would reduce the number of tests by two-thirds, some legislators still feel that is too many tests. Others think it's not enough. "My intention is to gain a consensus, to the best of our ability, on assessments through this legislation," he said.
Patrick told his committee he intends this bill, Senate Bill 1724, to complement another of piece of his legislation, Senate Bill 3, which would create a new framework for high school students to earn diplomas, one that would allow students to focus on college readiness or post-secondary employment. Which education path a student is on would determine how many end of course exams a student would have to take, either five or six. They would then have to pass all but one to graduate. Every student would take an English end of course exam, but that would only be used as a diagnostic tool and wouldn't keep a student from graduating. Every student would have to take and pass Algebra, Biology and History exams to graduate. The other tests would depend on the student's graduation path – either English II, English III or Algebra II.
The bill was left in committee while members work toward a consensus on the number of tests. Patrick told members this is an issue worth fixing and worth fixing this session. "We all thought that this was a good idea, getting away from the TAKS [test] and that our 15 end of course tests would be final exams," he said "It's not quite turned out that way. I do think it's important that we get it right."
The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, March 13 at 11 a.m.
Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.