By TERRENCE STUTZ Austin Bureau email@example.com
Published: 21 May 2013 11:05 PM
Updated: 21 May 2013 11:25 PM
AUSTIN — Continuing a move toward reduced testing in Texas schools, the Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would exempt high-performing students from reading and math tests in the fourth, sixth and eighth grades.
The measure by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would affect thousands of students in elementary and middle schools, but the precise number would be left up to the commissioner of education.
Affected students would see the number of STAAR exams they take reduced from 17 to 11.
Seliger said a waiver would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education because the federal No Child Left Behind Law requires that all students in third through eighth grades be tested annually in reading and math.
“This is only for high-performing students, so it shouldn’t be a big number,” the senator said. “If you do very well in third-grade math, you won’t take it in the fourth grade. These are kids who don’t have to be tested every year because we know they will perform at a high level.”
The same would be true for fifth-graders and seventh-graders. If they do well in reading and math, they won’t have to take State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exams in those subjects in the sixth and eighth grades.
“There is a 97 percent probability that these students will perform at the same level two years in a row,” Seliger said.
Students would still be tested in writing, science and social studies in certain grade levels.
Seliger said he and Rep. Dan Huberty, the Houston Republican who wrote the bill in the House, met with Gov. Rick Perry earlier this week and the governor was receptive to the proposal.
The measure was approved, 29-2, and now goes back to the House, where members will consider the Senate’s changes.
Other bills working through the Legislature this session also would reduce the number of STAAR exams taken by students.
The most comprehensive would cut the number of end-of-course exams taken by high school students from 15 to 5. That measure, already passed by the House and Senate, is currently before a joint committee trying to resolve differences between the two chambers before the end of the legislative session on May 27.