House Reforms will improve Public Education in Texas
By Texas House Speaker Joe Straus
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House of Representatives voted last week to approve three bills that will improve education and school accountability. Each bill was a response to concerns voiced by parents and educators.
Perhaps the issue that we hear about most is excessive testing. Most of the STAAR tests that our schools administer are required by federal law, but not all of them are. Last week, the House passed House Bill 515, authored by Rep. Gary VanDeaver.
This legislation would eliminate several tests, and it would end the practice of re-testing students in 5th- and 8th-grade reading and math. The legislation would also require schools to wait until the end of the school year to administer tests. This is an important step toward reducing the emphasis that is put on testing in our schools.
Another bill that would reduce the stress surrounding testing is House Bill 22, authored by State Rep. Dan Huberty, the Chairman of the House Public Education Committee. This legislation would reform the new A-F School Rating System so that it better reflects the unique population of each school and depends less on standardized test scores.
Also, instead of getting a single A-F grade, a school and district would be graded in three specific areas:
- Student Achievement
- Student Progress, and
- School Climate
This will create a more accurate picture of schools’ performances.
Chairman Huberty (right,) is also the author of House Bill 23. This legislation would create a grant program to provide public schools with additional resources to educate students who have autism or other disabilities. This legislation is an effort to help students whose learning challenges may not have been fully addressed by their schools.
Each of these bills passed the House with overwhelming support, and now they head to the Senate for consideration.
I’m optimistic that, by the end of the legislative process, we will enact these bills and other reforms that will improve public education in Texas.