Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

November 19, 2006

4 by 4, a Solution in Search of a Problem

Looks like high school students are going to have to take more math and science in order to graduate. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I just want to know why did the legislature require it?

Having not really paid attention to House Bill 1 at the time, I’m assuming it has something to do with “college readiness.” I figure some legislators got together and figured out that Texas students weren’t doing so well and that increasing the requirements would address the situation.

So just what was it that told the lawmakers that something had to be done, although as usual, they don’t seem that interested in paying for it? The number of high school students unable to graduate because they hadn’t pass the TAKS? Oh, wait, it couldn’t be that since according to recent newspaper reports, we don’t know how many students fall into that category.

Maybe it was the number of students requiring remediation when enrolling in college? But did anyone actually check to see what courses these students have taken?

It could be that they were reacting to a change in the admission requirements of Texas state colleges and universities. The colleges could have been demanding a more rigorous preparation and increased the number of credits required for admissions. Except, there hasn’t been any such increase. Texas A&M requires three science units and only two have to be Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. UT only requires two science credits although it recommends three. I couldn’t find the requirements for UTSA, apparently all they require is a certain SAT or ACT score.

In general, I would say that taking more math and science would be a good thing. But here’s my problem with this “solution,” I don’t think anyone can actually say what it is a solution to. In other words, nobody can say when we have 80% of high school students passing the science TAKS test, we have solved our problem. How many people are passing the test without taking the extra classes? As usual, the fact that the state has implemented a solution is more important than whether or not it actually solves anything.

It’s kind of like saying that if all basketball players practice free throw shots 30 minutes a day, they would have a 90% accuracy in making free throws. There are going to be some players who can achieve that with only five minutes a day and some that still wouldn’t make it even with a hour a day but still somehow make it to the NBA. And then there are those who will never play in the NBA anyway.

1 Comment »

  1. Well now. As of today (the plans of this sort can change by tomorrow), my Texas school district will be completely revising our daily high school schedule to ensure that we meet these brilliant new change-the-face-of-education requirements. We’ll have to cut our current classes from 55 minutes to 45 minutes each to make room for an extra class during the day, and cut passing period between classes from 5 to 4 minutes.

    Of course, that’s not enough paring down of teaching time. We’ll probably be changing our required “bonding” period (essentially a homeroom) from once a week to daily, and the pep rallys that were, for this year only, ouside of the daily schedule will be, once again, stuck in the middle of the day. No one came to the rallys when they didn’t have to, and as we all know the only reason schools exist is for football and all that props it up, thus, mandatory pep rallys (ve haf vays to mek you peppy!).

    It’s the usual Texas brilliance. Moronic mandates require more and more testing and credits, yet less and less time to actually teach anything. I’m beginning to wonder if the tin hat brigade who suggest that’s it’s all a plot to ensure the abject failure of the public schools so that privateers can take over don’t have the lay of the land after all. I wonder how I look in aluminum foil?

    Comment by Mike — November 23, 2006 @ 12:36 am


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