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Testing Holiday for High Achievers Offered Under Texas Bill

High-performing Texas students would get a break from some of the state tests their peers have to take each year under a measure that now awaits final action by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

However, this idea flies in the face of the federal No Child Left Behind Act's requirement for all students—not many, not most—to be assessed annually at grades 3-8 and once in high school. So, it presumably would require sign off from the U.S. Department of Education.

Indeed, the legislation, which news accounts suggest is likely to be signed by Gov. Perry, comes as Texas is awaiting word on its request for a waiver from some provisions of No Child Left Behind. My guess is the Feds are not likely to look favorably on the idea of letting some students skip the testing.

Under the legislation, overwhelmingly approved by both state legislative chambers, students who are deemed high-performing would only be required to take the state's math and reading tests every other year in grades 3-8. So, they could skip the exams for grades 4, 6, and 8.

A Houston Chronicle blog discusses the measure and quotes its chief sponsor, Republican Sen. Kel Seliger.

"Most kids are still going to have to take all of the tests," said Seliger, but he argued that the measure is an important step towards reducing testing in Texas. "The point is, don't test for what we already know."

Seliger told the Chronicle that it would be up to the state's education commissioner, Michael Williams, to set the criteria for students who could get the testing holiday.

I would guess, however, that some school districts might not be thrilled at the idea of having their top-scoring students skip the exams, since it would presumably bring down their average scores.

Just yesterday, meanwhile, I blogged about a separate bill headed to Perry's desk that would cut back from 15 to five the number of end-of-course exams all students must take to graduate high school.

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