Plans Would Weaken Graduation Requirements
Mar 06, 2013 | 1373 views | 0 0 comments | 628 628 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Plans Would Weaken Graduation Requirements

Fewer career or college ready students could severely damage Texas’ economy

AUSTIN, TX— Business leaders are raising concerns that legislation currently being considered will cause high school graduation requirements in Texas to drop dramatically.  That will mean a huge decrease in the number of students who are graduating career or college ready.  Those numbers already are low, and Texas can’t afford to see them go any lower.

“The only end-of-course exams in these bills are for high school freshmen level courses,” said Bill Hammond, President and CEO of the Texas Association of Business.  “There will be little to no incentive for students to take harder courses if we eliminate the current high school graduation requirements. When the last math course you’re testing is Algebra I, and you are eliminating the need to take any course beyond geometry, you are discouraging students from succeeding in their future studies.  While not all students will need a bachelor’s degree, more than 20 percent will, yet, according to a 2006 study, fewer than 20 percent of students, who stopped high school math at geometry, earned a bachelor’s degree.”

Those recommended requirements are mandated for college entrance at all state universities, as well as to be considered for the top ten percent rule and the TEXAS Grant program.  If those requirements are eliminated, the result will be more students taking remedial courses in college because they aren’t ready for the rigor of college level courses.  “Not only will that increase the cost of college degrees, it will also lower completion rates as students simply give up because they feel they will never catch up,” said Hammond.  “Only two state universities have four-year completion rates over 50 percent now.  Why would we want to lower these already embarrassingly low numbers?”

“We have, over the years, made changes to improve a failing system to create a system that is starting to show benefits,” said Hammond.  “While we still have a long way to go, we are slowly starting to see more students graduating, and graduating career and college ready.  The numbers are still far too low, but abandoning a system that is only beginning to pay off seems foolish, especially if you are talking about weakening the system to the point that it is almost meaningless at the high school level.”

Texas Education Agency numbers show a steady increase in high school math test scores and a steady increase in the number of students taking advanced placement courses and tests as the rigor of Texas high school standards have gone up.  While these numbers are still lower than they need to be, at least they are moving in the right direction.   “Backing off of that now will do nothing but short change our students and our future,” said Hammond.  “We know that the number of jobs in Texas that require a post-secondary degree or certificate is growing at a rapid rate.  If we are not providing the educated workforce to meet this need, our economic future is bleak.”  

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Founded in 1922, the Texas Association of Business is a broad-based, bipartisan organization representing more than 3,000 small and large Texas employers and 200 local chambers of commerce.
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