Senate Education Committee Discusses Graduation Bill at First Meeting
02.19.2015 — On February 19, in its first meeting of the 2015 session, the Senate Education Committee quickly took care of housekeeping issues and began hearing public testimony on SB 149 by Sen. Seliger.
Many education-related organizations, including TASA, indicated support for the bill, which allows districts and charter schools to create individual graduation committees for students who have passed all their courses but failed one or more STAAR end-of-course exams (about 28,000 students in the class of 2015). The committee would determine whether the student is qualified to graduate based on other performance measures or recommend actions the student could take to graduate, such as additional remediation, completion of a project in the relevant subject area, or development of a portfolio.
Both Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg and Elgin ISD Superintendent Dr. Jodi Duron testified in support of the bill, as did representatives of TAMSA and a parent of a Liberty Hill ISD ELL student.
Those expressing concern with SB 149 were the Texas Association of Business, which noted a lack of ties to college and career readiness standards, and the Austin Chamber, which said such committees usually pass students regardless of achievement.
During the course of discussion Sen. Larry Taylor, the committee chair, said that SB 149 was drafted in response to questions as to the validity of the STAAR EOC itself as a measure of student achievement.
The bill was left pending. If passed with a two-thirds vote in both houses, it would apply immediately to 2014-15 high school seniors. Otherwise, it would take effect September 1, 2015.