For years, parents and educators have demanded reform when it comes to student testing in Texas. Currently, the state uses the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR), which has defined education for the past decade; several bills this session are geared toward its reform, including House Bill 764. 

Introduced in December by State Reps. Matt Krause (R–Haslet) and Brooks Landgraf (R–Odessa), HB 764 is designed to reform the STAAR test on the elementary and middle school levels by eliminating exams not required by the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It would also replace the End of Course (EOC) exams with college readiness exams like the SAT, ACT, PSAT, or TSI.  

School districts would be required to partner with institutions of higher education to develop college prep classes in reading, mathematics, and English language arts for students who do not meet college readiness standards. 

”There has to be accountability, and an assessment is needed,” Krause told Texas Scorecard. “However, by utilizing HB 764, districts would take away the high-stakes nature of the assessment, and the bill would allow districts to customize the assessment structure best for them. With so many and quite diverse school districts, a one-size-fits-all test or assessment tool isn’t the best approach.”

“I think this bill strikes the right balance between having an assessment tool to gauge learning and growth and having one that is actually effective in measuring those outcomes,” said Krause.  

The state of Texas currently requires STAAR testing in reading and mathematics for grades three through eight, and testing in writing for grades four and seven. There’s also a science exam in the fifth and eighth grades, as well as an eighth grade social studies exam.  

This bill does not take away the penalty for students not passing certain exams, such as keeping a student back a grade until they pass or not allowing them to graduate. For example, students would still have to take the U.S. history exam in 11th grade. 

Parents, educators, and citizens may contact Krause and Landgraf or their representatives with opinions and concerns about this bill.

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.