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Relating to the creation of individual graduation committees for certain high school students.
(Rep. Dan Huberty is House Sponsor of this legislation.)
The estimated two-year net impact to General
Revenue Related Funds is a positive impact of
$2,710,208 through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.
The bill would amend the Education code to require school districts and open enrollment charter schools to establish individual graduation committees (IGCs) for students who fail to pass state standardized exams. Only eleventh and twelfth grade students who have failed no more than two exam subjects would be eligible and students would not qualify to graduate under this provision before twelfth grade. These changes to the Education code would expire on September 1, 2017.
The IGCs would be made of up the principal /principal's designee, the teacher of the course relating to the assessment the student did not pass, the student's counselor, and the student's parent or guardian. The student would satisfy core curriculum requirements identified by the State Board in Section 28.025(a), but the IGC may recommend additional requirements for graduation, such as additional remediation and the completion of a project or a portfolio of work samples that shows proficiency in the failed subject area. The committee may consider the student's grade in each of the failed subjects, the student's score on the failed state standardized exam, the student's performance on additional requirements by the IGC, hours of remediation attended (including attendance in a college prep course), school attendance rate, and a list of other criteria when determining if the student should graduate. The student would have to meet the requirements of the IGC and the committee's vote would have to be unanimous for the student to qualify to graduate. The IGC's graduation decision would be final with no appeal.
This legislation attempts to create a path to graduation for students who would otherwise be ineligible due to failing one or two standardized tests. There are some obvious individual liberty and personal responsibility benefits to students who would have a second opportunity to graduate high school without having to re-take an entire course. It is well known that students who graduate high school generally have better economic prospects than those who do not, therefore it is advantageous to increase graduation rates to the extent possible while maintaining high educational standards.
There may be some concern that opening this avenue to graduation will ultimately lead to a diminishing of the educational standards that prospective graduates are expected to achieve in order to complete high school and that the requirements would potentially be uneven from student to student or across school districts. While the individuals who make up the IGCs will undoubtedly have the students' best interests in mind, there will also presumably be great pressure to graduate ill-prepared students in order to boost graduation rates.
It is also concerning that this legislation would add new administrative burdens to school administrators and teachers. These burdens would be particularly heavy for school districts with lower graduation rates because teachers and principals would presumably be required to participate in more IGCs in such districts.
Still, there is a clear potential for students to benefit without the state incurring the added expense of deferring graduation. This may very well outweigh the above concerns. Without the benefit of having research to assess the impact of these proposed individual graduation committees our concerns are merely speculative, and because the state clearly has a legitimate interest in education reform, we are remaining neutral on this legislation.