Updated 03/12/2013 07:03 PM
Texas Senate considers changes to school requirements
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Whether 14-year-olds are ready to decide the fate of their academic futures is being questioned by education experts and state senators.
The Senate Public Education Committee heard testimony Tuesday over proposed changes for standardized testing and high school graduation requirements in Texas.
Committee Chairman Dan Patrick has proposed a reduction in the number of tests Texas students have to take to graduate from 15 to about four.
He also wants to expand options for students to explore vocational training paths versus college preparation. Instead of the traditional “four by four” method which involves four years each of math, science, English and social studies. Proposals call for maybe only three years of certain subjects.
For many testifying before the Senate’s education committee members Tuesday, they say that combination could mean too many standards would be jeopardized.
But it's a route teachers like Beverly Smith are hoping lawmakers don't allow students to take.
"A fourteen-year-old trying to determine that without a whole lot of help will take the easiest path," Smith said.
Bill Hammond with the Texas Association of Business has expressed concern over-watering down standards.
"Everyone knows they're going to do away with the physics and chemistry end of course exam, so for us, that argues that at least they should have to take the courses especially if doing away with exams," Hammond said.
Also Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency announced it will release STAAR results this summer. That will give teachers and parents the ability to review the tests.
Current state law only allows the release of the test results every three years, but Commissioner Michael Williams exercised his authority Tuesday morning. He hopes that it will alleviate some of the concern surrounding the higher rigor of testing.