On June 10, 2013, Governor Rick Perry, in front of an audience of lawmakers and education reformers, signed House Bill 5 into law in an attempt to bring flexibility back into the Texas education system. HB 5 directly impacts public high school students in Texas by reducing the number of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness End of Course (STAAR EOC) tests they must take to graduate.
Prior to the bill passing, high schoolers in Texas were required to take and pass fifteen STAAR EOC exams over the course of four years, and students’ scores on these tests accounted for fifteen percent of their final grades in the respective course. However, the new measure reduces the number of required STAAR EOC examinations to five – three administered to freshmen, one to sophomores, and the final test to juniors – in the following subjects: English I, English II, biology, algebra I and U.S. history. By consolidating the reading and writing exams and eliminating many of the higher-level subjects, like Algebra II and physics, lawmakers hope to reduce the time and money invested in high-stakes testing and instead give more autonomy to the teachers themselves.
While these provisions will not go into effect until next school year, HB 5 does bring good news to some students who failed the STAAR EOC exams this year. The Texas Education Agency recently announced that students who failed the end-of-the-year exams in the six subjects that will be dropped – algebra II, chemistry, English III, physics, geometry and world history – will not have to retake these exams. Under the original legislation, students would have to retake failed exams until they received a passing score, therefore HB 5 saves some of the students anxiously awaiting STAAR EOC exam retakes this summer.
By Carly Pablos
With immediate and long-term effects for students, teachers, and administrators, HB 5 will be a game-changer in the classroom. For more information on the bill, visit http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/83R/billtext/pdf/HB00005F.p