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Relating to the administration of state assessments.
HB 4242 would require the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency to evaluate readability within grade level for each test assessment instrument. A test would be required to include only passages written at a reading level not higher than the grade level at which the assessment will be administered.
The assessments would also be required to be independently evaluated by group of educators with experience teaching in Texas to ensure the reading level of the passage is appropriate for the grade level of the students to whom the assessment is given. If a test assessment does not meet readability standards, the district would be required not to administer that assessment. Makeup and qualifications of the evaluation committee are prescribed.
A question with a related passage would be prohibited without its related passage first being evaluated by the independent evaluation committee.
The bill would require the education commissioner to base the levels of performance on these assessment instruments on the grade level expectations and standards for each subject or course.
Finally, HB 4242 would require the education commissioner to contract for a study to be conducted to determine whether each assessment administered in the 2018-19 school year or scheduled to be administered during the 2019-20 is written at the appropriate reading level for students in that grade level. Requirements for the study are specified. The commissioner would be required to issue a report on the results of the study.
If the report indicates that an assessment instrument during the period included in the study was written at a level above grade level, student performance on that test could not be used as a factor in determining whether interventions should be applied or whether a student advances to the next grade level.
Texas Action recommends opposing HB 4242 because it violates our principle of limited government. This bill would allow testing standards, and therefore school accountability, to be watered down. This would be a disservice to students and reduce the quality of public education in Texas.