AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lawmakers want to change the way Texas students are tested to graduate. The STAAR Test is taking center stage at the Capitol on Thursday. Two Republicans, State Senator Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble, want to permanently change the law that mandates statewide testing.
Students are given the STAAR to test their knowledge at the end of a course, like math, reading and science. Last Legislative Session, Senate Bill 149 was passed, which expires in September. It allows a students to fail two out of the five STAAR Tests and still get their diploma. However, students who fail have to get the green light from a panel of teachers, counselors, parents and principals. The new proposal by Seliger and Huberty would make the bill permanent.
For Rep. Huberty, the situation with standardized tests is an issue his family has dealt with since his middle son, Ryan, is dyslexic. “In middle school, Ryan consistently struggled with his STAAR examination,” explained Huberty. “Only recently, he began to pass due to the allowances of online STAAR test for those with special needs.”
Last year, close to 6,000 students got their diploma even after failing at least one of the five mandatory STAAR exams. Gov. Greg Abbott said he supported the law last session, claiming the state “must protect” students from what he called evolving testing standards.
Educators say the law helps students who struggle due to language barriers or learning disabilities. Critics, like the Texas Business Association, say the law is hurting students. They say by not passing the mandatory tests, students will not be ready for life after high school. In response, Huberty says the intention of the bill is to “assess the student’s college and career-readiness as a whole.”
This is not the only bill on the table affecting students. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says the state’s new A through F school rating system is “here to stay.” However, El Paso Rep. Mary González filed a bill to repeal it. The bill would change the grades to “Exemplary, Satisfactory, Acceptable, and Needs Improvement.”
“If you have a low-income school, 07, then they’re gonna get an F rating. 09 That’s gonna continue to impact housing prices. 11 Gonna continue to bring that neighborhood down. 13 There are really dangerous domino effects to the A thru F,” said Rep. Mary González, D–El Paso.
More than 100 school districts have also come out against the new rating system.
Search Your School’s A-F 2016 Rating System