Federal education officials have denied a state waiver that would have eliminated the need to test eighth grade students' math skills more than once -- the denial is related to provisions in House Bill 5 that reduced the overall number of end-of-course exams.
Federal officials with the U.S. Department of Education have signaled that double-testing will be required for 8th grade algebra students.
Debbie Ratcliffe with the Texas Education Agency said Commissioner Michael Williams was denied a waiver that would have dropped the requirement that students take both the state’s end-of-course exam for Algebra I and a federal standardized test for math.
"With this denial of our waiver request, districts will have to decide whether they make those advanced 8th graders take both tests or whether they are willing to just get them the Algebra I test knowing that there could be some consequences in their federal ratings," Ratcliffe said.
According the letter received by the TEA, much of the reason behind the denial had to do with how House Bill 5 reduced testing requirements.
"Because the Texas Legislature reduced the number of end-of-course exams, we now only have one math test that’s required by the state at the high school level," Ratcliffe said. "And so their concern was that they wouldn’t have scores to attribute to high school performance for the kids who took Algebra I as 8th graders."
The new state law reduced the number of end-of-course exams from 15 to just five tests. Local districts will need to decide how they are going to handle their testing for 8th grade students by April 1.