Bill allowing seniors who don’t pass STAAR to graduate passes House

(KXAN File Photo)
(KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas House gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a plan that would allow students to graduate even if they don’t pass all their standardized tests. If a student failed no more than two STAAR tests, he or she could still get a diploma if approved by a panel of teachers, counselors, parents and principals.

“Schools put a lot of pressure on their kids to do well,” said Hillary Procknow, whose son Truman spent Tuesday at home. Hillary told Truman’s school her son wouldn’t be coming in to take the STAAR test.

“I’m worried about the fact that my children are being exposed to test preparation for a great part of the school year and instead of meaningful learning activities,” she said.

Kids around the state take the test each year. This year, around 25,000 high school seniors may not graduate because they haven’t passed all of their tests.

“We need to see desperately that more of our students graduate from high school career or college ready and this goes in the exact opposite direction,” said Bill Hammond from the Texas Association of Business. He says lawmakers drop the number of tests year after year because school districts discover their kids don’t know what they should.

“They weren’t getting the job done,” said Hammond. “What they did was they scared mom. They told mom that Johnny was not going to be able to go to UT because of the test, which of course couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The bill goes to a final vote in the House Wednesday. More than 2/3 of both chambers approved this plan, so it will likely become law as soon as Gov. Greg Abbott signs it. The author wanted to fast track this law so it could help the high school seniors this year.

For more than a year, KXAN has reported on the growing movement to opt-out of standardized tests. But, to do that, parents must keep their children at home on test days and make-up test days. We found out not many are taking that step.

Attendance numbers from Austin I-S-D show more than 6,000 5th grade students took STAAR tests March 30; 15 students were absent that day. In addition, 5,300 8th graders took STAAR that day, and 39 were absent.

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