Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report Analyzes Impact of Texas’s Graduation Requirements on Latinos

A policy brief from University of Texas researchers concludes that new legislation cutting back the emphasis on testing in the state’s high school graduation requirements will help Latino and black students.

The reported was released by the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis at UT. The new legislation cuts back the number of state tests students must pass in order to graduate from high school.

The brief notes that the legislation came about because during the session “there was a widespread view that students were being over-tested.”

While “end of course” exams were cut that students were required to pass in order to graduate, five still remain. The remaining exams are Algebra I, English I, English II, biology, and U.S. History. The 10 exams cut included Algebra II, geometry, English III, chemistry, physics, world geography and world history.

Even with the change, many students will still struggle with the existing “end of course” exams.

Such tests linked to graduation often disproportionately negatively impact minority students. Several years ago, I wrote a story for The Dallas Morning News pabout a Hispanic girl who learned English as a second language and was struggling to pass the Texas science exit exam, after failing it four times, so she could graduate from high school. I met with her family and followed her as she participated in Teen Court and attended after-school test prep sessions.The scientific words were one of her biggest challenges.

“I haven’t failed any classes in high school,” she told me. “It’s killing me, the stupid test.”

She eventually passed, on her fifth attempt.

If your state requires passing a graduation test to graduate, consider following a student who is retaking the exam and the steps they take to try to pass. This puts a human face on the challenges students face.

Related Links:

- “Policy Report: High School Graduation Requirements Show Promise for African American, Latino Students,” Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis at The University of Texas at Austin.

- “Pass TAKS – or Pass on Diploma,” The Dallas Morning News.