Reason to rejoice

HB5 limits number of EOC tests, graduation requirements

Story by Anna Graves, staff writer

Students walk the halls with a little less weight on their shoulders this year.

With the original requirement of taking 15 standardized tests changing to only five, the thought of End of Course testing seems a little less overwhelming.

House Bill 5, which will go into effect this school year, now requires students to take only Algebra I, Biology, English I, English II and U.S. History EOC exams.

The new EOC system is coming in after the demise of TAKS. Both tests are different, and this is expected to be quite a change for the students.

“I think we test our students too much, so I’m excited it has been bumped down to five,” testing coordinator Lindsay Skinner said. “I think EOC is much better than TAKS because it is more content based and covers more of what students should be learning in class. It will be something to get used to.”

Although it may take awhile to get into the groove of things, Skinner is confident in the change of programs.

“It’s a change,” Skinner said. “But once we start and get going, I believe it will benefit the students.”

Sighs of relief were heard throughout the classrooms after the students were told of the bills passing.

“It’s better because we don’t have to take 15 tests. That’s joy, isn’t it?” freshman Ruben Ramirez said. “I think it will benefit us, so that we won’t have to worry about so many tests, and we can focus on other school work.”

Some students, while still having that feeling of joy, are also thinking a tad more realistically about the new requirement.

“I like it in the sense of, ‘Yay! No more testing,’” sophomore Annie Hounsel said. “But at the same time, what are we going to do with the skills we are learning? Why do we need them if we don’t test on them?”

In addition to testing, HB5 also introduced changes in graduation requirements by reducing the number of math and science classes required for the minimum plan to three each. While some students will see this as another way to slack off, students planning on getting an education after high school will need to continue counting up their credits.

“Students will be able to graduate with fewer state required credits, but students must be aware of what their plans may include post-secondary,” said Mark Schroeder, Director of College and Career Readiness. “First glance, I believe we will have many students excited about the lower requirement in math and science, but students who have collegiate plans should be aware that colleges will be wanting students to have 4 – 6 state math credits depending when they begin Algebra I.”

Student shooting for a Distinguished diploma should be aware that it still includes the 4 x 4 format for math and science.

“Students must think beyond their four years in high school and schedule courses that will meet their needs in college and are in their plans,” Schroeder said. “The 4 X 4  should be in the plans for any student planning to attend college or a university.“

Students will also be required to choose from five endorsements: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Services.

“Texas High School has always offered a plethora of courses that will fit well with the new foundation plan with endorsements,” Schroeder said. “Within each of these endorsements, students will have the opportunity to schedule a wide range of courses that will meet their interests.”

Students and parents need to stay aware of post-high school education requirements.

“Students have must understand that even though some requirements may decrease in high school, the requirements will continue to  increase at the collegiate level,” Schroeder said. “Students and parents must understand that the competition for college admissions will increase and students must participate in the appropriate courses in order to compete for the spots in college.”

The new graduation requirements will take awhile to get used to. We will not know how beneficial the new requirements and testing will be until we get into the habit of it. Until then, the students of the public schools of Texas will continue their celebration.