TEA Delays 'End of Course' Requirement Another Year

15% rule punted for another year

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams: Opening the door to throw STAAR out?
Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams: Opening the door to throw STAAR out?

The beleaguered and widely criticized STAAR testing system takes another hit today as Commissioner of Education Michael Williams announced that the 15% rule – whereby the end of course tests will count for 15% of a student's graduation requirements – will be pushed back another year.

Groups like Save Texas Schools have blasted the 15% rule – and, for that fact, all of STAAR – as a bad system badly implemented. The rule is already on hold: It was supposed to come into effect with the 2011-2012 school year, but former commissioner Robert Scott offered districts a one year waiver on its implementation.

In a statement, Williams cited advice from Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Education Committee Chair Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for this decision. In fact, he probably should have listened to the 1,100 ISDs around Texas that took advantage of this year's waiver.

Education Austin president Ken Zarifis called this measure "a sign of things to come." He said, "People know that this was a mistake, and I'm hoping that they're finding a way to bow out gracefully and put an end to this foolish part of accountability."

The Education committees at the Legislature will have their hands full next session when Patrick tries to hammer through school vouchers (more about that in next week's issue). After that, they'll be fighting over whatever rulings come out of the school finance lawsuit (and whatever the inevitable Supreme Court review produces). However, expect a slew of accountability reforms coming soon.

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