AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a much-watched high school curriculum overhaul that cuts the number of standardized tests students must pass to graduate from 15 to five.
The measure is designed to give more flexibility to youngsters who want to focus on career training, not just college-prep courses. But amid a major backlash from students, parents and teachers about too much testing, it also slashes the number of state-mandated exams.
Perry said Monday he was originally skeptical about weakening curriculum standards — but that the measure strikes a good balance.
It became law as Texas announced that only 54.3 percent of ninth-graders passed the English I STAAR exam, down slightly from 2012. Even under the new law, high school students still must pass an English I exam.
State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, authored House Bill 5, which ushered in the new law.
“We are pleased and excited that this change will take place to benefit the thousands of Texas students. House Bill 5 will not only reduce the overemphasis on testing, it will also provide opportunities for students to obtain skills necessary for productive jobs,” Aycock said in a news release. “I want to thank everyone who has worked to make this significant change in Texas education.”
The 2012-13 school year marked the second year that Texas districts were required to administer the STAAR exam to students. The STAAR tests are focused on critical thinking and college readiness, and feature grade-specific tests for students in third through eighth grades, and multiple subject-specific tests, known as end-of-course exams for high school students
Under the new legislation, students will be tested in English I and II, algebra I, biology and U.S. history.
The changes to the testing system included in the law are set to take effect next school year.
Killeen Independent School District officials will present the results of the 2012-13 round of STAAR testing to members of the board of trustees at a meeting tonight.