In the May issue, I noted that it was crunch time for school accountability in Texas, as the Texas Legislature wound down to final decisions on several bills, most significantly one that would drastically reduce the standard for high school graduation as measured by standardized high school end of course assessments. Unfortunately, this bill passed and was signed into law, a major setback to 20 years of progress in standards and accountability reform in Texas. Hopefully, we can work with the Texas Education Agency in the implementation of this bill so as to mitigate its more damaging provisions.
Our organization, the Texas Institute for Education Reform, and its coalition partners were also involved with support of a package of bills advancing competition, choice, consequences for failing schools, and deregulation. There were some victories, we laid the groundwork for further work, and our reform coalition is well armed to continue with our agenda, but as much as I would like to put a positive spin on the overall outcome for our priorities, it is difficult to find a basis for a grade higher than a D. But this is a never ending process, we and our allies are not without ammunition and the fight will continue.
And as I wrote in May, there are serious implications involved in this fight, including the large and growing workforce “skills gap”, as illustrated by the following.
Currently, 51% of Texas high school graduates require remediation at taxpayer expense upon entering community colleges, and only 19% of Texas students in the 2000 cohort of 8th graders have in hand any type of postsecondary credential, including college or industry certification, seven years beyond expected high school graduation.
With the dilution of graduation standards, these numbers are unlikely to improve, adding to budget and social pressures, but, more ominously, short-changing our kids even more, as they struggle to find postsecondary success either in college or the demanding 21st century workplace.
I invite you to visit our website, www.texaseducationreform.org, and link to our June E Newsletter, the TIER Capitol Report, which provides details of the key education legislation, wins and losses, etc. Also, we are beginning to make plans for the interim and your tax-deductible financial support would be a big help and much appreciated.