Texas high schoolers can breathe a sigh of relief. Their test load is about to be cut in half. Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill Five into law Monday, which will decrease the required STAAR tests from 15 to five each school year.
This law is expected to have a major impact on public schools in Texas. Over the past two years, teachers say they've been overwhelmed with the amount of standardized testing. Educators welcome these changes with open arms.
"It took so many days to test, so many days out of instruction. The overemphasis on testing, the number of students having to go back and retest," Lubbock-Cooper ISD assistant superintendent, Dr. Macy Satterwhite said.
Satterwhite tells us educators have been begging for a solution for the past two years and House Bill Five is the answer.
"I still believe the five we have are still very rigorous tests and require lots of teaching and lots of learning," Satterwhite said.
Now, Texas high schoolers will just be required to pass a standardized Algebra 1, Biology, US History, English 1 and 2 and a combined reading and writing test to graduate.
"I think it's essential that we have some level of measurement to know how well our kids are progressing, but the last two years it's been too much," Marty Rowley, District 15 State Board of Education member, said.
Many students are enrolled in summer school right now because they couldn't pass a particular STAAR test, so what does this ruling mean for them? Local school districts don't know yet.
"Do we keep these students enrolled in summer school? Do we retest? Because we sure don't want to mess with graduation plans," Satterwhite said.
The Texas Education Commissioner says ISDs won't be left in the dark too much longer.
"I think the commissioner is well aware of the burden that's being placed on Texas schools with summer remediation and the retesting that's going on, so I'm optimistic that we'll have something in the next few weeks." Rowley said.
Districts will have to work fast to implement these changes, but most agree House Bill Five is well worth it.
"We hope sooner rather than later, because we are working to make this the best for our students," Satterwhite said.
This law also gives students the opportunity to choose different college or career related tracks. The cumulative score requirement for end of course exams will also be eliminated.