Fewer high school students had to retake the standardized state tests this summer, thanks to recent legislation passed by Texas lawmakers.

Both the Killeen Independent School District and Copperas Cove Independent School District reported a significant drop in the number of end-of-course exams that needed to be re-administered to high school students as part of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness standardized testing.

Under STAAR requirements, high school students must pass end-of-course exams in multiple subject areas to graduate. If students fail the exams, they have several chances to retake them, including during the summer.

Originally, STAAR required students to take 15 end-of-course exams during high school. However, House Bill 5 approved by the Legislature in May cut that number to five — algebra I, biology, chemistry and English I and II.

“That’s a two-thirds reduction in the number of tests that these students had to take, and it means a reduction in the number of retests we will have to administer,” said Diana Miller, Killeen ISD’s chief academic officer.

According to Miller, the passage of HB5 resulted in 1,500 fewer exams the district had to administer this summer.

“That’s obviously a very significant decrease,” Miller said.

Cove ISD

Copperas Cove also saw a drastic decrease in the number of readministered exams. Cindy Hutcherson, CCISD’s executive director of academic services, said the legislation cut retests for high school students to 522 exams total.

“That’s half of what we would have had if they had kept all 15 EOC’s,” Hutcherson said. “As you can see, the new legislation had an immediate impact.”

Hutcherson said having fewer end-of-course exams would allow districts like CCISD to allocate resources to meet critical needs.

“Things became very unwieldy, but now we can really focus on those core areas, and help our students build a strong foundation.”

Since students took STAAR tests before the Legislature reduced the required number, the Texas Education Agency has not announced whether scores on the dropped exams will be used to calculate district accountability ratings for the 2012-2013 school year.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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