The good work of many parent organizations and local school boards achieved a positive result yesterday when the Legislature passed a bill reducing the number of tests needed to graduate high school from 15 to five.

Public sentiment was strongly opposed to the massive testing regime that had grown out of control and beyond reason.

More than 80% of the state’s local school boards had passed resolutions opposing high-stakes testing.

And the parent groups led the charge to persuade the legislature that testing had become a burden, not a means of improving student achievement.

The parent group called TAMSA (Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment) was also known as “Moms Against Drunk Testing.”

However, do not believe for a minute that the Texas Legislature has turned wobbly overnight. At the same time that they passed House Bill 5 to reduce the number of tests needed for graduation, they also passed a bill that will vastly increase the privatization of Texas public education by lifting the cap on charter schools. Another bill opens up the state to unlimited expansion of online corporations, the predatory companies that take dollars away from public schools while providing inferior education.

This is the language opening the door to exploitation of public dollars by the online industry:

7:13 p.m. by Morgan Smith

Legislation expanding online education in Texas public schools is heading to the governor’s desk. Both the House and Senate have adopted the final version of HB 1926 from Rep. Ken King, R-Hemphill.
The bill opens up the state’s virtual school system — which is now restricted to school districts, charters, and colleges — to nonprofits and private companies. Currently, many course providers within the virtual school systemalready subcontract with private companies. Starting in middle school, HB 1926 also requires all districts to offer students a chance to take online courses, though it limits the number of those classes students can take to three per year.
The Texas Education Agency would authorize course providers, renewing their approval every three years depending on student performance.
The online industry is powerful in Texas, and it lobbied hard to open the door to its inferior products. There is no evidence to support the value of online courses or homeschooling online at the government’s expense. There is a wealth of evidence that these courses and virtual schools are a waste of money.
So, score this legislative session as a victory for the critics of high-stakes testing, and a victory for the vultures who want to suck money out of the public system for their own enrichment.

TAMSA issued the following press release after the testing bill passed:

Dear TAMSA Members:
Today, legislators in the Texas House and Senate voted to adopt House Bill 5 as recommended by the Conference Committee. TAMSA commends this effort and would like to specifically thank Speaker Joe Straus, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, Chair of the House Public Education Committee, and Senator Dan Patrick, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, for their extraordinary leadership and commitment to shepherding HB 5 through the legislative process. Rep. Aycock and Senator Patrick and their committees personally listened to days of parent and student testimony on how the excessive focus on state-mandated standardized tests is negatively impacting Texas schools and student learning. These leaders met with stakeholders and other members of the legislature to diligently craft HB 5. Rep. Aycock and Sen. Patrick have set a new threshold in Texas for legislative access and transparency.
HB 5 has been extensively debated and amended during this legislative session. This much-needed legislation reforms and reshapes public education at the high school level, in particular revising the testing, curriculum, and accountability regime in Texas. Under HB 5, state-mandated STAAR exams required to be passed for high school graduation will be limited to five:  English 1 and 2 (reading and writing combined into one test), Algebra 1, Biology, and US History. HB 5 also eliminates the provision that required 15% of EOC scores to count in students’ final grades, as well as the cumulative score requirement. Two additional state-designed standardized tests, Algebra 2 and English 3, can be administered at the school district’s option. Further, HB 5 provides flexibility in high school curriculum that will allow Texas students to pursue their interests, while retaining rigor and allowing all high school graduates to be eligible for admission into Texas public colleges and universities. This bill also modifies the school accountability rating system.
“Texas parents have been extremely active and involved in the legislative process for the last two years since realizing the detrimental impact of the new STAAR tests,” said Dineen Majcher, President of TAMSA. “Parental involvement significantly helped legislators to understand the dire, albeit unintended, consequences of the current system. We have worked together to craft meaningful solutions.”

On behalf of parents across the state, TAMSA expresses its deepest appreciation to the House and Senate leadership and members for taking bold and positive action on behalf of Texas students.