New hope for schools’ ‘nearly there’ students

Senator wants special graduation project extended

By Richard Lee
Texas Senate News

A PROGRAM that allows some Texas high-school seniors to graduate even if they don’t pass all their required standardized tests could become permanent even though it is set to expire this fall.
The senate education committee this week considered a proposal to extend the program, which passed into state law two years ago and could help several thousand students each year.
If passed, Amarillo senator Kel Seliger’s senate bill 463 would make the law permanent.
Seliger proposed the existing law during the legislature’s 2015 session, creating an alternate pathway to graduation for students who meet all other graduation requirements but fail to pass one or two required STAAR end-of-course examinations.
Under the law, committees made up of a student’s parents, teachers and school administrators look at the student’s entire academic career, including factors
like grades and extra-curricular activities.
They can assign remedial work or an additional project in the subjects for which the student failed the standardized test.
If they unanimously agree that the student is ready to move on to college, the military or the workforce, they can then recommend that he or she be allowed to graduate.
Seliger said on Tuesday that less than three per cent of last year’s Texas senior class, or about 12,000 students, graduated this way.
About 70 per cent of the students who submitted to an independent graduation committee were approved for graduation but Seliger said even more important is the 30 per cent who weren’t. He said it “shows that the educators involved in this and the parents are being discerning and pretty tough minded.  “They aren’t doing this just to get the kid out of school unless he should get out of school.”

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