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Next Week, Lawmakers Will Take Up New HB 5 Curriculum Standards

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

In the coming week, lawmakers will begin examining curriculum standards set by the Texas State Board of Education under House Bill 5, a law passed in 2013 that provides more flexibility and pathways for student growth, and there is an effort to add more rigorous courses in math and science.

From its very conception, higher education officials and some within the business community have taken issue with HB 5 because it dropped student requirements for taking courses like Algebra II.

In the coming week lawmakers in both the Texas House and Senate will re-examine those curriculum standards which replace Algebra II with a set of statistics courses. They’ll also be looking into finding a way to add more rigorous math and science courses.   

"I actually believe that statistics can be just as rigorous as Algebra II and so I’m just disappointed that university officials are coming down so hard on statistics," said state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, who sits on the House Public Education Committee.

Despite his love for statistics, the message he’s preaching is that if you want to go on to a four-year college, you have to take Algebra II. Villarreal said one of the main things he’ll be focusing on is over-testing, another component of the interim charge on public education.

“I think there’s a whole lot more work that we can do in ratcheting back the obsession with standardized testing and I want to see us take up legislation once again to reduce the number of examines at the lower grades," Villarreal said.

Villarreal said this past session there was bipartisan support for a bill that would’ve reduced the number of standardized tests in grades 3 through 8, but it was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.  

The education committees in both the House and Senate are scheduled to meet Wednesday, March 26.

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.