Perry Signs Bill To Change Graduation Plan, Cut Back Standardized Testing In High School

Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law six education bills. One of them is House Bill 5. It's the bill that rolls back standardized testing and also changes the high school graduation plan.

Gov. Perry put to rest rumors that he would veto one of the biggest education bills passed by Texas lawmakers.

Here’s how he sums up the bill at a signing ceremony in Austin.

“A balance between our need for accountability and the appropriate level of testing in the classroom.”

High school students will now have just five standardized tests instead of fifteen.

The new law also means the courses required for graduation will change and school districts will have a new rating system.

Perry squarely answers critics who worry the changes will weaken the quality of a high school education in Texas.

“If there’s one thing to remember today, it’s that Texas refuses to dilute our academic standards in any way because our standards are working.”


Today, the governor signed Senate Bill 441 and House bills 5, 809, 842, 2201 and 3662.

Perry hasn’t convinced all the critics, though.

“Well, we’re extremely disappointed.”

That’s Bill Hammond. He’s the president of the Texas Association of Business. He wanted Governor Perry to veto the bill.

“The problem here is that fewer and fewer Texas students will graduate career or college ready as a result of this legislation because the curriculum has been rolled back. The requirements for graduation are much less than they were yesterday.”

Hammond says the changes to the high school graduation plan will translate into economic problems later on, if students aren’t prepared for the workforce.

Supporters believe the opposite will happen. David Anthony is the CEO of the advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas.

“I think it makes education much more relevant and ties it more directly to the workforce.”

He says students will have now the flexibility to get more career and technical training in high school and land jobs that pay much more than minimum wage. He says there’s something else to be learned from how the law got passed.

“That’s the biggest lesson, is that the grassroots level, the individual voters, the moms, parents, taxpayers can have a huge impact in the legislative session.”

He specifically points out the parent group called Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, or TAMSA.

Susan Kellner with the group says it was very empowering to see the final result, though she was worried Perry might not sign the bill.

“I think at the end of the day he realized that it was good policy and I would argue that he probably realized it was good politics, too, because so many of our parents were weighing in nonstop, in phone calls and emails. They were just, they were relentless.”

The changes to testing will take effect immediately. But the new high school graduation requirements will start in the 2014-15 school year.

 

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...