FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 01/15/2015
Representative Huberty Again Files Legislation for Student Testing Relief
Austin, TX - State Representative Dan Huberty today refiled legislation to alleviate overly burdensome state assessments for elementary and middle school students in grades 3 - 8. Currently, those students are required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to take 17 standardized tests. House Bill 741 (HB 741) is identical to House Bill 866 from the last legislative session which passed unanimously in the House before receiving approval from the Senate and a signature from Governor Perry. However, a required waiver to implement the law was denied by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).
"After Texas Education Agency (TEA) received the waiver denial from the federal government, I was determined to refile and again pass this important piece of legislation. As a parent of three children in public school, who are all subject to these tests, I know firsthand the frustration and exhaustion that comes from these excessive standardized tests," explained Representative Huberty. "My colleagues and I had high hopes that the USDE would recognize the outcry of our constituents and by allowing our state to focus testing on those students who need it most, and exempt those who simply do not."
According to the legislation, the Commissioner of the TEA was required to request a waiver from NCLB. TEA submitted the waiver in August 2013, and received a denial in response. If the waiver had been approved, the law would have allowed high-performing students to "test out" of subsequent STAAR tests in a particular subject by performing well on the test in the previous year. This would have greatly reduced testing for certain students and allow Texas educators and administrators to focus on those students who historically do not perform well on these assessments and may require more attention.
"I believe we can reduce testing while maintaining the highest accountability standards in the country. The purpose of testing every year is to ensure every child is learning and improving along with their grade. We do not need to be testing for the sake of testing. It is important for these tests to serve as a real gauge of our students' educational achievements and confirm that our public education system is providing every student with a great education." Huberty added, "HB 741 will help us reach that goal."
HB 741 is one of several pieces of education-related legislation filed by Huberty in the 84th Session. House Bill 742 (HB 742) and House Bill 743 (HB 743) have also been filed by Huberty. HB 742 will reduce the number of required assessments for students in grades 3-8 by allowing only NCLB-required assessments to be administered to Texas students. If passed, this piece of legislation will eliminate the state mandated writing assessment in grades 4 and 7, as well as, a social studies assessment. Additionally, Huberty included a provision in the legislation that will require Texas to make changes to the assessments that are given if NCLB standards are lessened in the future.
"It is essential to continue to ensure achievement and create high standards for our students, but the sheer amount of time and the extreme number of assessments has become overwhelming." Huberty said. "One of my many goals during the 84th session is to continue to reduce the number of high stakes exams."
Similarly, Huberty's HB 743 puts a limit on the amount of time that students may be required to spend on an assessment. If passed, the bill will require TEA to ensure that an assessment instrument is designed to be completed by the majority of students in an appropriate amount of time. The bill states that 85% of students in grades 3-5 must be able to complete the assessment within 90 minutes and students who are in grades 6-8 must be able to finish the assessment in less than 120 minutes.
State Representative Dan Huberty was re-elected to serve House District 127 last fall and was sworn-in to serve his third term on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. He has previously served on the Public Education, State Affairs, Redistricting and Select Transportation Funding committees.