The House passed Rep. Aycock’s HB 5 after 8 hours of debate on Tuesday, drastically changing the accountability system, graduation requirements, and high school end-of-course STAAR exams. Chairman Aycock says, “This bill gives all Texas students the opportunities they need to succeed in life by offering multiple pathways in high school. Our goal is to prepare all students for success, not just those going to four-year colleges. The bill will also make Texas students better prepared for the jobs that Texas employers are struggling to fill.”
The future looks brighter for Texas education. Last week, the House budget added another $1 billion to public education funding. According to school finance consultant Lynn Moak, an increase of $2.5B means that most schools’ funding will be at the same level it was in 2010-2011. Property wealthy districts still take a hit.
Rep. Donna Howard and other House members have said they set aside $500 million additionally for public schools in the second supplemental bill, mostly to cover costs of the current school year, and additional costs of remediation.
There is increasing pressure from some businesses and form former legislators who wrote the current system to “strengthen” HB 5 and its companions in the Senate, SB 3/SB 1724. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has signaled that he wants changes to the Senate versions of HB 5 as well – apparently an increase in the number of tests required to graduate, adding Eng III and Alg II, and a change to the Foundation Diploma that brings the requirements up to the level of the currently Recognized Diploma, roughly.
TEA Commissioner Michael Williams was finally confirmed by the Senate this week. He was appointed months ago by Rick Perry and thanked the Governor for the opportunity.
News of the Week
In Budget Plans, Riders as Telling as the Numbers
Riders are often added to the budget to ensure that a state agency spends a certain amount of money in the exact way lawmakers intend. If a rider in the proposed House budget plan is ultimately signed by Gov. Rick Perry, for example, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will spend $1.5 million cleaning up “a site of a closed battery recycling facility in a city with a population in excess of 120,000.”
House Approves New Approach to High School Graduation
The challenge of finding balance between rigor and flexibility in graduation requirements dominated Tuesday’s debate over legislation that would significantly change the courses students need for a high school diploma. The measure tentatively passed the Texas House.
TribLive: Freshman Lawmakers on Vouchers
At this morning’s TribLive conversation, Ross Ramsey talked to state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and state Reps. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, and Gene Wu, D-Houston, about the prospect of school voucher legislation.
House Budget Spends More on Schools, Less on Medicaid
The Senate budget proposal, passed 29-2 by the upper chamber last week, spends $195.5 billion, a 2.9 percent increase from the current two-year budget. The House budget, which is scheduled for a vote on the House floor on April 4, spends $193.8 billion, a 2.1 percent increase.
Guest Column: Texas Leads in Tests But Not in Education
Texas outspends every state in the nation on testing, and not just because of its size. A November 2012 Brookings Institution study showed that California, which had nearly 1 million more students enrolled in grades 3-8 (for which annual testing is federally required), spent approximately $53 million on standardized tests; Texas is spending about $90 million annually.
Guest Column: Education in Wonderland
Texas has been a trailblazer in its commitment to prepare all students for college and careers. Yet now that the state requires an additional year of math and science and has introduced end-of-course tests to ensure mastery of high school coursework, some argue that we’re asking too much of our high school students.
Texas moms unite to rein in state’s end-of-course testing
For Amick and hundreds of other parents across the state, passage of HB5 is fundamental to rolling back what they say is an oppressive system of testing that stands in the way of a sound education for their children. The bill not only constitutes the first major education reform to come before the 2013 Legislature, it also demonstrates the grassroots power of Texas mothers when they lock arms in behalf of their kids.
Texas House bill gives students more room to feel good
It gets the accountability system, in particular its requirements for high school end-of-course exams, out of the way of students who want to do something else. It eliminates the unpopular notion that scores on end-of-course exams should count as 15 percent of student grades. That element had been added as way to push students to try harder on state tests, but many parents and some educators decided it went overboard.
Texas Senate confirms nomination of Education Commissioner Michael L. Williams
The Texas Senate today voted unanimously to formally confirm the nomination of Michael L. Williams as the state’s Commissioner of Education. Named to the position by Governor Rick Perry in September 2012, Commissioner Williams’ appointment required Senate confirmation.
Cleburne school trustees decide not to arm educators
Cleburne school officials will not pursue a proposal to allow teachers, administrators and other staff members to carry guns onto campus after a community-wide survey showed that too many residents and students were opposed to the idea.
In Iowa, a GOP governor charts a different course
Branstad, who was elected in 2010 as part of a resurgent GOP, has made proposals many Republicans would sneer at: raising minimum teacher salaries and offering incentive pay for teachers who take on more responsibilities – all by tapping $187 million in new school funding.
Texas lawmakers get a look at ‘school choice’ bill
Sen. Dan Patrick laid out his plan this month in Senate Bill 23, the “Texas Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program.” Patrick has put a new twist on the old voucher idea, one that at first glance lends legitimacy to his use of the word scholarship. Under SB23, parents would get money from a charitable organization, not directly from the state.
Texas House may give even more money to education
Public schools gutted of $5.4 billion two years ago would recapture about half that funding under spending plans offered by the Texas House on Thursday, and top Republicans have not ruled out restoring even more before Gov. Rick Perry signs the state budget.
Third El Paso-area school district admits cheating to meet federal standards
An internal investigation and an outside audit of the San Elizario school district revealed that several students’ credits were manipulated and students were reclassified inappropriately into different grade levels.
Fort Worth struggles on STAAR tests
Slightly more than half the students in elementary and middle schools passed the STAAR tests, and their passing rates were lower in all grade levels than those of their peers statewide. Public and charter school students across Texas took the more rigorous standardized tests in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.
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Proposed education requirement changes concern TAB
State Rep. Jimmie Aycock’s education bill that addresses the state’s student assessment and accountability systems passed out of the House Chamber Tuesday leaving the Texas Association of Business underwhelmed.
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