New State Exams Could Push Back Graduation in 2015
Almost 20 percent of rising high school seniors in Texas — the first to graduate under a new, more rigorous state testing regime — are at risk of not earning their diplomas on time because they have yet to pass one or more of five required exams.
In 2013, the Legislature dramatically scaled back state testing, dropping the number of required exams from 15 to five in part because of fears too many students would fail to graduate. The state also delayed plans last August to raise passing standards on the exams — standards that were lowered during the transition to the new assessments to allow schools time to adjust — when scores had not improved as expected three full years into the roll-out.
But even with the lower bar, about 55,000 students in the class of 2015 face retaking at least one exam in the five subjects needed to graduate: algebra, English I, biology, U.S. history and English II. By comparison, this year, just under 9,000 students were denied diplomas because they could not pass. Those students were among the last group required to take the older standardized exams to graduate.
“It is a huge concern because if [rising seniors] don’t graduate on time, and you can’t get them over the hump by summer school, do they re-enroll in high school?” asked Thomas Ratliff, a Republican who sits on the State Board of Education. “And if they do, does the state of Texas have the money to pay for a bump in enrollment?”