AUSTIN — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that would allow Texas high school students to fail two high-stakes exams and still graduate. It is effective immediately.
Abbott said Monday that the state “must protect” students from what he called evolving testing standards. “While it is critical that the state appropriately holds public schools and districts accountable for delivering the best possible education, we must protect Texas students from being penalized as a result of evolving testing standards,” he said in a statement.
About 28,000 students in the class of 2015 still must pass one or more of the five state exams in U.S. history, biology, algebra I, English I and English II required to graduate. Of those who need to retake exams, about half must retake more than one.
Senate Bill 149, by Amarillo Republican State Sen. Kel Seliger will allow committees made up of parents, counselors and other educators weigh factors like attendance and college entrance exam scores before deciding to hand over a diploma to a student who has not done well on the state’s standardized tests.
Critics of the bill included influential Texas business leaders. Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond has said it will reduce the value of a diploma.
The five end-of-course exams are Algebra I, biology, English I and II and U.S. history. Abbott says the new rules protect students from “undue penalization.”