SENATE APPROVES TESTING OVERHAUL
(AUSTIN) — The number of standardized tests needed to graduate high school would be dramatically reduced under a bill approved by the Senate Monday. Currently, a high school student must pass 15 end of course exams in order to receive a diploma, a number that many parents found too high. House Bill 5, sponsored by Education Committee Chair Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, would cut that number of tests, and create a new degree program to give students more flexibility when choosing classes. "This will be the most rigorous, the most flexible education plan in the country," he said.
HB 5 would only require that students pass five end of course exams; U.S. History, English I and II, Algebra I and Biology. Two more exams, Algebra II and English III, would be optional and wouldn't be required to graduate nor would they affect school accountability ratings. Patrick said that when one accounts for benchmark or diagnostic tests, a student could have to spend 90 days taking standardized tests over their high school career. The plan under HB 5 would reduce this number to no more than 21.
The bill would also offer more flexibility to high school students when it comes to tailoring their education. Patrick called the plan "flex 4x4", which still maintains the four hours each of math, science, English and social studies, but allows students to focus on classes that will prepare them for life after high school. Students would choose an endorsement path and then they would have flexibility to take additional science, math, or career and technology courses.
This bill will likely head to a conference committee, where members of the House and Senate will meet to hammer out the differences between the two versions of the bill.
Also Monday, the Senate approved a bill that would combine automobile registration and inspection stickers into a single sticker. Under SB 1350, by Dallas Senator Royce West, verification of valid vehicle inspections would be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles and would be required to receive a new registration sticker. An interim study on the subject found that a single-sticker system would reduce fraudulent inspections and save the state money. Texas would join 27 other states that combine registration and inspection stickers. This bill now heads to the House for consideration.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 7 at 11 a.m.
Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.