Despite sharply reducing state testing requirements for Texas high school students, the 83rd Legislature brought only conditional relief from high-stakes exams for students in lower grades, who take a total of 17 state tests before going to high school.
For parents and educators who want less time spent on state exams in elementary and middle school, hopes are pinned on the new legislation, but with a big caveat: it is likely that Texas must first obtain a No Child Left Behind Act waiver from the federal Department of Education.
The act requires states to test public school students in grades three through eight annually in reading and math, and at least once in science in elementary and middle school. At the state level, Texas mandates additional exams in social studies and writing.
If the waiver were granted, the state law passed this year, House Bill 866, written by Representative Dan Huberty, Republican of Humble, would allow students who excel on state reading and math exams in the third and fifth grades to skip exams in those subjects in the fourth, sixth and seventh grades. All students would be tested on math in the third and fifth grades; on reading in the third, fifth and eighth grades; on writing and science in the fifth and eighth grades; and on social studies in the eighth grade. <Read more.>