Lawmakers hoping to help students who have trouble passing STAAR

With a group of Texas high school students by their side, Senator Kel Seliger and State Rep. Dan Huberty held a press conference at the State Capitol on Thursday.                 
               
Seliger said even though assessment systems are important there's nothing magic about the STAAR exam.
               
"The folks at NASA never took a TAKS or STAAR test and yet we muddled our way to the moon," Seliger said.

Seliger says last session, with the help of Huberty, a Senate bill passed that allowed high school students who failed one or two of their end of course exams to still be considered for graduation.

The student would go before an IGC, that's an Individual Graduation Committee, made up of teachers and parents.  The committee assigns additional work like projects and takes a look at the student's entire body of work instead of just how they did on that big state-mandated test.

"In order to qualify for an Individual Graduation Committee that student must pass all of their courses in high school," Seliger said.

The expiration date on that legislation is September of this year.  What Seliger and Huberty are proposing now will make the Individual Graduation Committees permanent.

"I'm not really a good test-taker but I do my work in class, I get everything done and then with this test it's just been holding me back for multiple things," said Connally High School senior Corey Daniels.

Daniels is on the football team and is being sought after by colleges. 

But he's failed the STAAR multiple times.  Some of his friends in the same boat have felt like throwing in the towel.

"They're good students, good friends and everything.  With them taking this test over and over and over again it's just made them want to quit their whole high school career and I don't want to do that," Daniels said.

Ken Zarafis with Education Austin says he's not against testing -- just punitive testing like the assessments that come from the state.

"The classroom is where the real work happens.  The classroom is where education happens.  So I put value in those teachers grades long before I would ever put value in a state accountability system and one test, one day," Zarafis said.

Zarafis says he supports assessments that help teachers understand what students have learned.

"An assessment comes in many forms: multiple choice, authentic, performance, all kinds of things we can do to find out what kids learn, let's move back to that.  That's real assessment.  Not some multiple choice test created by some company that doesn't know my kids," Daniels said.

The Texas Association of Business has long been against this idea.  In 2015 when the legislation first passed, the TAB CEO Bill Hammond told FOX 7 it lessens the value of a diploma.
               
This session a bill has been proposed in both the Senate and the House that would make the graduation committees permanent if passed. 
 

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