A number of amendments were adopted, reported the Texas State Teachers Associiaton, but none that significantly altered the course of the bill that, before amendments were adopted, would reduce standardized testing to evaluate student performance by reducing the number of end-of-course assessments from 15 to only five; provide flexibility for students by creating one diploma that affords all students a variety of postsecondary opportunities; allow students to earn an additional endorsement in one of four areas: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, and Arts and Humanities; expand course options and eliminates the requirement that all students must pass Algebra II and ELA III to receive a high school diploma; allow all high school graduates to be eligible for automatic admission to Texas public 4-year universities because all student graduate under the same diploma; allow students to meet their graduation assessment requirement by passing ELA II (reading and writing), Algebra I, biology and US History; eliminate the mandatory requirement that the end-of-course assessments determine 15 percent of a student’s course grade and eliminates the cumulative score requirement; encourage college readiness by allowing satisfactory performance on Advanced Placement exams, SAT exams and the ACT to satisfy graduation requirements; evaluate schools on more measures than state standardized assessments by establishing a new three category rating system that evaluates schools on academic performance, financial performance and community and student engagement employing labels of A, B, C, D and F.
The Austin-based Texas Association of Business is not happy with the political backlash which has been building up for many years to its calls for more and better tests for students.
“We should maintain current law when it comes to requiring students take the recommended high school program in order to be eligible for admission to our state colleges and universities. Anything less will increase the number of students who are totally unprepared to deal with the rigors of higher education,” said Bill Hammond, TAB president.
One of its members, a British-based multinational testing conglomerate known as Pearson, reportedly stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-provided revenues if a law similar to what is in HB 5 is eventually signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The state’s 5-year contract with Pearson, which covers the 2010 through 2015 school years, totals just over $468 million.
Based on figures provided by by the Texas Education Agency, Texas taxpayers by 2015 will have paid Pearson nearly $1.2 billion for developing standardized tests and related materials dating back to the year 2000.
The joke has always been on those Texans who mouth the slogan “local control” and then repeatedly vote into office politicians who “globalize” and “privatize” everything. Perhaps this joke, which was never very funny, is coming to an end.
The “globalizers” and “privatizers” will not give up, though. They have most of the money already. But they want it ALL.