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Fight Not Over For Bill To Reduce High-Stakes Testing

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

A statewide pro-business group based in Austin is urging Gov. Rick Perry to veto House Bill 5, a bill that changes the state’s testing structure for public schools.

Bill Hammond, the executive director for the Texas Business Association, said the House bill that reduces the number of high-stakes exams for school kids will provide the Texas workforce with a poor product.

"60 or 70 percent of the jobs that are being created today require some post-secondary education of some sort, perhaps even a certificate from a community college or an associate’s degree," Hammond said.

About 54 percent of today high school graduates are required to take remedial courses upon entering college just to catch up.

"We understand and agree with a reduction in some of the testing that is required under current law, but we see no reason whatsoever to diminish the curriculum requirements. We think the plan in House Bill 5 will actually incentivize kids to take the minimum curriculum," he said.

The other issue Hammond said the group has a problem with is the five educational tracks that either send student onto a vocational path or a college-bound path. He said this will create the illusion for many kids that they will have a job waiting for them when they get out of school.

"Not only is there the issue of children deciding their curriculum path in high school, but there’s also the issue of the high schools themselves, the institutions, suggesting that many of our students who are born in poverty should take the more minimum course, which we know will result in minimum-wage  jobs," Hammond said.

Hammond points out that most vocational jobs still require something  beyond high school certificate.  He says,  

"It’s fine for them to get a foundation in career and technology, but at the same time they have to obtain the academic skills to allow them to succeed beyond high school," he said.

The bill now awaits the governor's signature or veto, which he has until June 16 to make a decision.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.