Texas Public Schools
10:35 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Release Of End-Of-Course Exam Results Turn Up Heat In School Finance Trial

According to the Texas Education Agency, nearly a quarter of all high school juniors have fell short of end-of-course graduation requirements -- those numbers were what attorneys led with on day two of the Texas school finance trial.

According to the TEA, over 309,000 students met the necessary requirements and passed a set of end-of-course exams in order to graduate in 2015, which works out to about 76 percent of all Texas high school juniors.

David Hinojosa, an attorney with the  Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund who is representing some of the  school districts in the finance trial, questions this success rate.

"You can see most of those students haven’t even taken all of those tests," Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa said 224,000 have taken four of the required tests but still lack a U.S. history end-of-course exam. He said the recent information from the TEA only tells part of the story, especially if you look at school district’s cost for remedial courses and the cost of retaking the end-of-course exams.

Hinojosa said the numbers are off, pointing to the agency’s own data.

"Because in their press release they say most of the kids have taken all the tests, that’s not true," he said. "What their data showed there’s only 224,000 of those students that have taken four tests, many others have taken three tests or two tests, so we don’t know what it looks like."

Hinojosa said there is also a fifth end-of-course exam that no one has taken because it is new. He said the results also only tell part of the story, because once a student fails these exams it costs school districts five times as much in order to bring a student up to passing, money that some poorer school districts do not have.

"It pretty much varies from district to district as to what the different teachers and administrators and testing coordinators can do help these students get ready and actually help them to pass the tests," said TEA Public Information Officer Deetta Culbertson.

Hinojosa argued that the amount of money districts have to go toward remediation also varies with a percentage of school district not having anything set aside to help the 76,000 students who failed their end-of-course exams pass them. He also took issue with the TEA calling that number of failing students a "success."