The number of high-stakes tests required to graduate from a Texas public school has gradually dropped over the years. Now, even if a student fails the STAAR exams, there are other ways to earn a diploma – the student can present a portfolio of work to a committee, or earn a certain score on another exam like the SAT test.
Texas students didn’t always have that opportunity, though. In the past, if they failed to pass the STAAR test’s predecessor, the TAKS test, then that was it. No diploma. Now that’s changed, thanks in part to state Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat.
“Here in El Paso County, there’s an estimate of at least 19,000 students who are affected,” Rodríguez says. “Today, if you want to go into the military, you need a high school diploma.”
He says the new policy is intended to be an opportunity for people who did well in their high school career, but didn’t pass the test.
“These kinds of measures came about because of the tremendous pressure brought upon the Legislature by parents, educators, students,” he says. “And so that’s why we dropped the 15 required end of course exams down to five.”
He says those exams will also have less weight.
“It’s no longer you’ve got to pass it entirely in order to graduate,” he says. “And I think that’s a healthy move away from these standardized tests that have wreaked havoc, frankly, with our students because many of us have maintained that they do not reflect the actual knowledge and experience of students throughout high school.”
Written by Jen Rice.