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Texas Senate Panel OKs Letter Grades For Schools

Austin American Statesman
March 17, 2015

By Kiah Collier 

The Senate Education Committee voted out several bills Tuesday during a short, last-minute meeting, including a divisive measure to give A-through-F letter grades to every Texas public school campus based on their standardized test scores.
The panel approved a modified version of Senate Bill 6, by Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, in a 7-3 vote, with most of the panel’s Democratic members dissenting.

+Texas Senate panel OKs letter grades for schools photo
Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, announcing Senate Bill 6, along with other measures.

At the beginning of the 25-minute meeting, the Friendswood Republican said he wanted to delay implementation of the bill until next year, rather than this fall, to allow the state more time to work out issues with testing standards. The panel concurred.

That means that a bill lawmakers passed in 2013 to give letter grades to school districts starting in 2016 would take effect at the same time as Taylor’s measure — if it is approved by the full Legislature. It now will go to the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, who expressed vehement opposition to Taylor’s measure during a public hearing last week — arguing it would unnecessarily stigmatize communities and elevate a problematic testing system — reiterated his disapproval Tuesday.

But Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., a conservative Democrat from Browsville, joined Republicans in voting for the legislation, saying he doesn’t think parents in his district are aware of how schools are performing and that the measure would help them understand that.

“If they don’t really like that grade that the school is getting then they need to get involved and make it better,” he said.

Taylor again defended his bill Tuesday, noting he had modified it based on some concerns.

A notice was not posted prior to the meeting Tuesday, but Taylor received permission from the Senate to convene, anyway.