Local educators excited about changes to high school requirement - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Local educators excited about changes to high school requirements

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One of the major bills the Legislature passed during the regular session will have a big impact on high school students across the state.

House Bill 5 changes graduation requirements, student assessments and school accountability laws.

Critics of House Bill 5 have said it makes high school education too simple, but the bill passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate, and local educators recently said they're excited to see these changes.

House Bill 5 makes the biggest impact on standardized testing, lowering the number of tests from 15 to five, in English I and English II, Algebra I, Biology and U.S. History. School districts will have the option of adding exams in English III and Algebra II, but those scores won't affect their accountability ratings.

"It's going to kind of spread it out so that there's not such high stakes every year," said Bill Irvine, the lead counselor at Pine Tree High School in Longview. "You may have a couple tests as a freshman and one or two the years following, and it's going to be a lot less stressful on the students."

Pine Tree High School math and broadcasting teacher Allen Morris says he's excited to get teaching time back.

"My thought is, this will kind of free me up to take advantage of teachable moments - this opportunity to say, ok, let's teach some things that are more practical, rather than I'm just teaching you some things so that I can measure," said Morris.

House Bill 5 would change a high school student's core course options - they would be required to take four English Language Arts, three math, three social studies and three science classes in addition to credits in foreign language, fine arts, P.E. and other electives.

Students would have the opportunity to finish their degree by earning what the Legislature calls "endorsements" in areas like Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Business and Industry, Arts and Humanities, Public Services, and Multi-Disciplinary Studies.

"I think the new graduation plan allows some different avenues for the kids to go into, which is going to be a bonus for those students that are not geared towards college and not test takers," said Stephanie Richard, a 9th and 10th grade assistant principal at Lindale High School.

The new plan gets rid of the state's 4x4 plan that required four years of English, math, science and social studies.

But if a student wants to be eligible for the Top Ten Percent Rule and qualify for automatic college admissions, they are required to take four years of math and science, including Algebra II.

Most of all, Irvine says he thinks House Bill 5 will allow educators to be flexible and that the new plan is in the best interest of every student.

"It's going to be extremely student-centered and catered to what that student wants to accomplish after they leave high school," said Irvine.

Another thing that changes in House Bill 5 is the way schools are rated. School districts will now be given a letter rating of "A," "B," "C," "D," or "F."

But each campus will still be given the exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable ratings that have been used in the past.

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