Last June Gov. Rick Perry vetoed two good bills that would have helped scale back the overuse and misuse of standardized testing in elementary and middle schools (see the June 14 Hotline). A third bill, HB 866 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), survived without a veto and would have scaled back required testing of high-performing students in grades three through eight, contingent on a waiver of annual testing of all students required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now the U.S. Department of Education, exercising a de-facto veto of its own, has advised Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams that a waiver, if requested, would be denied.
HB 866, based on an idea developed by former Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston), enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the legislature. You can add it to the list of sensible testing-reform ideas likely to reappear at some point, either in the form of congressional proposals to overhaul federal NCLB requirements or in a reworked form in proposed state legislation next session.
Please note: The federal action on HB 866 does not affect the pending request by Commissioner Williams for a general waiver of NCLB requirements. An exemption from federally required annual testing in grades three through eight is not part of that general waiver proposal.