Senator Lucio's Letterhead

PRESS RELEASE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2013
CONTACT: Daniel Collins, General Counsel & Press Secretary
Phone: 512-463-0127

Senator Lucio Statement on Passage of House Bill 5

AUSTIN — Senator Lucio made the following remarks on the occasion of Senate passage of the conference committee report for House Bill 5:

"Mr. President and members, I rise to support Senate passage of House Bill 5 and to congratulate the members of the conference committee.

"When we as a Legislature first instituted the current high-school testing regime several years ago, we did so with the best of intentions. We wanted to ensure that students left Texas public high schools fully equipped to enter post-secondary education.

"Texas has not stepped back from that commitment. However, we needed this Session to take a hard look at whether we were honoring that commitment under our current testing regime. I was privileged to serve as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education this Session. In Committee, we heard from parents, students, and teachers from across the state about the effect our high-stakes testing regime has had on students. We heard from teachers that teaching to an exam interferes with their lesson planning. We heard about thousands of students unable to pass one or more End-of-Course exam, and putting their dreams of graduating and going to college at risk. Even for those that passed all exams, we heard about students having their chances at getting into the college of their choice hampered by the requirement that an End-of-Course exam count as 15 percent of their final grade. We heard about students fearing the exams, and dreading going to school.

"Taken together, we couldn't help but conclude that elements of our current regime were putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of students achieving their goals of going to college. Surely, something needed to be done.

"For these reasons, I was proud to sign on as a joint author to Senate Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1724, this chamber's bills to revamp our testing and graduation plan requirements. I am happy to see that elements of these bills have made it into House Bill 5. I was then, and am now, convinced that we are not retreating from academic rigor. Instead, we are forging a plan that will ensure our students are college-and-career ready, while also not over-burdening our teachers with teaching to a high-stakes test in almost every core subject.

"As was already laid out by Chairman Patrick, under this plan, students would take end of course exams in critical subjects: Algebra I; English I and II; Biology; and U.S. History. School districts can additionally chose to use Algebra II and English III.

"I thank the members of this chamber, and the members of the House for standing firm on keeping down the number of high-stakes tests. I also thank Lt. Governor Dewhurst for supporting a reduction in testing. This decision took real courage.

"All Session, we heard from dissenting voices that said "if we don't require a high-stakes test, students won't learn the material; teachers won't teach it." I disagree. I have more faith in our Texas teachers than that.

"We as Legislature set high curriculum standards. Under this bill, we set high standards in our course requirements for high school graduation. Students must still choose a degree plan which includes four courses in English language arts, four Math, and four Science, as well as two foreign languages. Under the bill, students have greater options when it comes to taking advanced math and science courses.

"As many of you know, I have for years been an advocate for effective counseling in Texas public schools. I appreciate that this bill requires graduation planning, and, even more importantly, that the bill further requires that students by default are put onto a graduation plan that will put them on the path toward post-secondary education. The series of endorsements students may take under House Bill 5 give students greater ownership over their own academic career, and lets them choose their own path toward post-secondary education or the workforce.

"At the end of the day, Mr. President and members, I believe the goal of the legislature should be to ensure that every child in Texas has the resources they need to get the best education available, and forge their own path in life. Certainly, no bill is perfect, but I think House Bill 5 serves to achieve this goal.

"For this reason, I congratulate the members of the conference committee for their hard work, and join them in supporting this bill."

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