By Wyndi Veigel
Princeton High School students will now be able to graduate without passing state mandated tests, after a series of requirements are met.
This is made possible by Senate Bill 149, which was passed into law May 11 and voted into action by the Princeton Independent School District Board of Trustees during their May 18 board meeting.
For nine seniors at Princeton High School this may be very important as the district awaits their final scores this week, Director of Secondary Curriculum Donald McIntyre said.
If a student fails three of the five end-of-course exams including Algebra I, but receives a passing score of proficient on the Texas Success Initiative assessment for math they may be eligible to graduate.
School board member Bob Lovelady asked if this bill was being enacted because of the low graduation rates compared to the rest of the states.
“There is nothing more heart wrenching than telling a kid they aren’t going to walk the stage,” he said.
By regular standards, to graduate, students must pass EOC exams for US history, English 1 and 2, biology and Algebra 1.
School board President Carol Bodwell wanted to know if a student doesn’t test well, why wouldn’t they fail all tests instead of passing a couple.
Anthony responded that it was based on subjects, some kids are good at math and some are good at reading.
Under the law, a graduation committee for each student that has not passed state tests must be formed and will include the principal or the principal’s designee, the teacher of the EOC test that the student has failed, the department chair or lead teacher over the EOC teacher, the student’s parent or guardian or a designated advocate for the student should a parent be unable to serve or the student, if they are at least 18 years old.
Since the law was enacted so quickly this year, the bill gives districts the ability to appoint alternate committee members but this ability expires Sept. 1.
A graduation committee will determine if the student is eligible to graduate if the student has successfully completed the credit requirements for the high school program identified by the State Board of Education and the student completes all additional requirements made by the graduation committee. The graduation committee’s vote for a student to graduate without passing EOC’s must be unanimous.
A student will be required to complete a project related to the EOC subject they have failed or to put together a portfolio of work samples from the course to demonstrate proficiency.
In determining if a student is able to graduate, the graduation committees may consider:
- the recommendation of the student’s teacher in each course for which the student failed the EOC test
- the student’s grade in each course for which the student failed the EOC test
- the student’s score on each EOC assessment they failed
- the student’s performance on any additional requirements recommended by the committee, such as the project or portfolio.
- the number of hours of remediation that the student had attended
- the student’s school attendance rate
- the student’s satisfaction of any of the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) college readiness benchmarks
- the student’s successful completion of a dual credit course in English, math, science or social studies
- the student’s successful completion of a high school pre-Advancement Placement, AP, or International Baccalaureate program course in English, math, science or social studies.
- the student’s rating of advanced high on the most recent Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS.)
- the student’s score on the ACT, SAT or ASVAB
- the student’s completion of a sequence of courses under a career and technical education program required to attain an industry-recognized credential or certificate
- the student’s overall preparedness for postsecondary success
- any other academic information designated for consideration by the board of trustees of the school district or charter
“You may graduate with that but you are going to be in remediation your sophomore year, your junior year and high school year,” Anthony said.
Anthony emphasized the importance of students who may not be headed to college to have a path into a trade or career tech program.
“If you’re not headed this way, you can go that way,” Anthony said.
Though there was much discussion and derision among the board members, at the end the vote to pass SB 149 was 6 to 1 with Bodwell voting in opposition.
“I don’t think we should lower our standards for students,” she said. “I think it’s a terrible bill and a terrible test. I do hope the committee will come up with real accountability.”
Designations on EOC tests and graduation requirements are designated on student’s transcripts, according to information released by the district.
For more information from the Princeton ISD board meeting see the May 28 edition of The Princeton Herald.