Saturday, April 25, 2009

Texas Education Revamped (Again): HB3/SB3

Just voted out of the House committee for Public Education is HB 3, a bill authored by Rob Eissler (R – The Woodlands). An identical bill, SB 3 was authored by Florence Shapiro.

In its present form HB 3 is set to alter the way Texas students are educated and graduated – again.

Gone, for instance, is the required retention of students who cannot for the life of them pass standardized tests. If they fail to pass, the issue is put under review to analyze the causes and to come up with solutions.

Gone, as well is the “minimum” label for the diploma given to students who take fewer courses. It’s now called “Standard.” For the most part, though, little change is made to what these courses are. There is lots of new language, though that suggests that these students are on a track toward auto repair.

Or beauty school.

The new “Texas Diploma” is the term used for the present “Recommended Plan,” and “Advanced“ is the term to be applied to “Distinguished Plan..” Very few course changes are made for these as well. One notable change is that the 4x4 plan, the plan that requires taking 4 years of math, English, social studies and science, is pared back a little. Four required sciences drops to three.

And obviously, the Texas Diploma and Advanced program are for the college bound.

And more than before.

More in that the schools must certify that the students bearing these diplomas are really and truly ready for college.

Because as it stands right now, some of them are not.

Here is the language in the bill:

(e-1)AAA school district shall provide an endorsement of college readiness on the transcript of a student who has completed a Texas Diploma or advanced high school program and has demonstrated the performance standard for college readiness as provided by Section 39.024 on the Algebra II and English III end-of-course assessment instruments. A district shall provide an endorsement of postsecondary readiness on the transcript of a student who has completed a Texas Diploma or advanced high school program and has demonstrated the alternate performance standard as provided under

Section 39.0243. The State Board of Education shall adopt rules as necessary to administer this subsection.

Like that? Not only must a school sign off on whether a student will be successful in college, but also the method by which this determination is made is clearly spelled out: passing two end-of-course tests.

Man, talk about a test with momentous consequences.

Fail the English III EOC? Off to Cosmetology School.

Really, there isn’t anything in there that requires that a college or university turn away an applicant because their transcript lacks the school’s college readiness endorsement. That would be bad for business (right Baylor U.?). But think of it. It’s a sure thing that college admission boards will use this endorsement as a litmus test if only to cut down on the number of applications and SAT scores they have to peruse.

That’s one thing about Texas. In Texas, when you get lots of people complaining about students having to take lots of standardized tests that have horrific consequences if they don’t pass, fix the whole thing by adding the number of tests to be taken, from 4 to 15, and up the stakes for failing to pass two of them.

All for the purpose of making schools more accountable.

In Texas, the tail wags the dog every single time.


Anonymous said...

You are right about that Hal!

Anonymous said...

Hi Hal. First of all, I'm not trying to attack your post. I just want to pick your brain.

If a high school student can't pass Algebra II and English III, do you think they will be successful in a traditional college setting?


Hal said...

It would be like checking your oil level with a dipstick and not pushing it down far enough.

The further you push it down the better a sample you get.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the dipstick analogy, I understand. What else do you think they should include in a college-ready assessment?

We can say all the nice things we want about a student - perfect attendance, well-behaved, played a darn good trumpet, but it they can't pass their core classes in college, they won't (and shouldn't) get a degree.

We have too many kids graduating from high school and having to take remedial classes when they get to college!

Have a good day,

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is it is ridiculous to make physical education just an elective. What is a brilliant mind if the individual does not know how to lead a healthy life? Physical education is not something that is centered around performance, it is centered around being healthy. These students need to learn how to be healthy.

Anonymous said...

I see a rise in Community College enrollment. Perhaps I'll have to get a job teaching computer technology there.