By Abby Rapoport, Texas Monthly Capitol Intern House Education Chair Rob Eissler says the conference committee on HB 3, dealing with education accountability, has come to a consensus. Testing differences, at the top of disagreements between the House and Senate, have now been resolved with a hybrid. The conference bill only requires students pass Algebra 2 and English 3 for the standard diploma (a House feature), but it also maintains the Senate’s aggregate scoring, a Senate feature. Aggregate scoring sets an average score on all exams that students must reach—so if they do poorly on one, they must do better on another. So while students technically just have to pass the two exams, Eissler says they will actually have to pass four in order to have enough points. With the 4×4 system still intact, that will mean passing four of twelve course exams to earn the standard diploma. “I knew going in that passing just the two tests was probably a little light,” Eissler said. “But, hey. that’s what conference committees are for.” The other big change to the bill is a PE requirement. In the House, Eissler fought hard against such requirements, but the governor’s office appears to have interceded. “There was a threat with that one,” Eissler said. According to Eissler, while conferees are in agreement about grade promotion, this issue remains the most serious problem in dealing with the governor’s office. This may threaten the bill if left unresolved. Perry has advocated stricter standards on grade promotion, while HB 3 and SB 3 make more allowances for remediation programs, so that if a student falls just short of a passing score, there are alternative courses to passing. The most innovative part of the bill, a Career and Technical degree program, remains in the bill, which Eissler hopes will come up for an up-or-down vote on the conference committee report on Sunday.
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