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SB 1724 by Sen. Dan Patrick Voted out of Committee

During yesterday's Senate Education Committee hearing, Chairman Patrick offered a substitute to SB 1724, his bill related to high school graduation requirements and end-of-course (EOC) exams. Although a hard copy of the substitute bill was not available on Tuesday, the following content was shared by Chairman Patrick and discussed by the committee.

The substitute would require that all high school students take seven EOC exams that would include: Algebra I, English I and II (reading and writing components given on the same day but scored separately), Biology, and U.S. History.

In addition, the substitute would require that every student select one of three endorsement options from STEM, humanities, or business and industry.  A student would be able to make changes to his or her endorsement route as late as the 11th grade. Students earning any of the three endorsements would have the opportunity to earn an additional merit of distinguished achievement by taking specified additional course work.

The substitute would also eliminate the Algebra II and English III scores as college readiness indicators. Instead, the TEA Commissioner would be required to identify scores that indicate college readiness on the AP, IB and SAT (ACT not included). The commissioner would also be allowed to consider identifying college readiness scores on other assessment instruments he deems appropriate.

During the onset of the Senate Ed hearing, committee members requested additional time to consider the implications of the substitute and proposed amendments so the vote was delayed until the afternoon. After the committee reconvened, the discussion centered on an amendment by Sen. Royce West who explained that the state had defaulted on its agreement to provide financial support for SSI, and he wanted to ensure that all students had the resources needed to be successful. It was explained that the amendment would steer compensatory education funds to the provision of accelerated instruction to students who had not passed an EOC exam needed for graduation purposes. Districts would be required to separately budget sufficient funds, including compensatory education funds, for that purpose. The amendment would also require that districts evaluate the effectiveness of the accelerated instruction program and hold a public hearing once a year to consider the results.

Sen. Kel Seliger expressed concerns that this amendment was too prescriptive, while Sen. Leticia Van de Putte thought it would provide an effectiveness measure that was currently lacking.

The bill was voted unanimously out of the committee to the full senate with 8 ayes. The bill could be heard on the Senate floor as early as next week.