The Senate Education Committee met yesterday in an interim hearing to review two charges:
- The high school English Language Arts and STAAR Alternate testing requirements.
- The implementation of House Bill (HB) 5.
Five panels of invited expert witnesses testified before the committee, including Texas Education Agency (TEA) officials, teachers, counselors, PTA members and other education stakeholders.Those that spoke laid out many concerns about testing and some unintended consequences of HB 5, such as an English test in high school that lasts up to five hours and the physical endurance it takes students to concentrate for that time period.
The committee also heard from special education stakeholders who laid out problems with the new STAAR Alt tests and the elimination of the STAAR Modified tests, citing negative effects on some special education students. ATPE Past State President Cheryl Buchanan and Laura Buxkemper, who is also an ATPE member and special education teacher, both traveled from Ballinger ISD to testify at yesterday’s hearing about their concerns regarding STAAR Alt.
Yesterday’s committee meeting was also different insofar as one-third of the legislators who showed up for the meeting are currently running for state office, a fact which added some political drama to the day’s proceedings. An archived video of the meeting can be viewed here.