PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 10, 2013

Perry signs HB 5

Bill reduces number of high-stakes testing in Texas

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

AUSTIN — After a two-year battle, Rep. Joe Deshotel has finally succeeded in alleviating the burden of high-stakes testing for Texas high school students.

“It was a huge deal,” Deshotel, D-Beaumont, said of House Bill 5, which was signed by Gov. Rick Perry on Monday.

Co-authored by Deshotel, House Bill 5 lowers the number of requisite end-of-course (EOC) exams from 15 to 5. After the bill takes effect at the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year, students will only be required to pass EOC tests in English 1 (reading and writing), English 2 (reading and writing), Algebra 1, and biology.

Memorial 9th Grade Academy Principal Lisa Chambers has spent the past two years meeting with teachers, students and parents from across the state to analyze the effects of high-stakes testing.

“I didn't care if it took me hours and hours and hours of meetings,” Chambers said. “We will be able to incorporate more opportunities for learning in different settings and not have to totally focus on testing.”

The bill also provides more pathways to post-secondary education by moving away from the “4 by 4” plan, a path to graduation that required students to pass four years of the core subjects — math, science, English and social studies. Now, students are able to concentrate more on the field they wish to enter after graduation.

“I have two college degrees, but I still pay a plumber $100 an hour when I have to fix my toilet,” said Charlene Hardy, who teaches world geography at Memorial 9th Grade Academy. “We need electricians and plumbers and mechanics just as much as we need people with masters degrees.”

Hardy said that the Texas legislators got it right this time.

“I’m very glad that Gov. Perry actually did something positive for education,” she said.

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA