A House bill that would revamp high school graduation standards and testing requirements was sent to the full Senate on Tuesday. The Senate Education Committee approved the measure after making several revisions that mirrored earlier Senate legislation on testing and graduation standards. The Senate version reduces the number of tests that students must pass to graduate – from 15 to 5 – although it includes English I along with English II, Algebra I, biology and U.S. history. The House bill did not include English I and divided English II into separate reading and writing exams.
As the panel began considering the bill, Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, defended the changes and disputed criticism from business groups and others that the legislation is weakening standards in high school. “We are not reducing accountability and rigor, and do not intend to do so,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” But Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond and other business representatives said they are concerned that the new requirements will leave many students without the skills they need to succeed in college or a career. “Our goal is an educated work force. We want to make sure more students are ready to succeed after high school,” Hammond said.