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Senate Panel Passes Its Version of House Education Overhaul Bill

Veronica Zaragovia

Last month the Texas House passed its education reform bill – HB 5. Today members of the Senate Education Committee took the measure up and began the process of hammering out differences between the House and Senate on the future of education in Texas. 

The Senate Education Committee chair -- Republican State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston -- opened the hearing by saying that changing requirements would not hurt the quality of the state’s curriculum.

"I’ve read in emails and news articles that the Texas Legislature is reducing rigor accountability and generally dumbing down education in Texas," Sen. Patrick said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

On Tuesday, committee members agreed with the House version on points like reducing the number STAAR exams and giving students options to choose different academic paths. The amended committee substitute of HB 5 would require Texas to pay for SAT and ACT exams. It would also remove the mandate to grade schools A through F and put that in a separate bill, among other differences.

Round Rock Superintendent Jesús Chávez testified during the hearing.

"Today I’m supporting House Bill 5. That's not to say that we superintendents don't have concerns about the tracking piece. I mean we do," Chavez said.

He says districts should have to report which students choose one path over another to ensure enough minorities pursue college readiness, not just go straight to work.

Members passed the amended bill. The full Senate floor will debate it next.