TEA Commissioner defers 15 percent rule - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

TEA Commissioner defers 15 percent rule

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At the Texas Assessment Conference at the Hilton in downtown Austin Friday, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams was met with loud applause and a standing ovation from school administrators after he announced he would defer the 15 percent grading policy for the 2012-13 school year. 

"There have been a number of questions raised by teachers, administrators, moms and dads and students themselves about the implications of that 15 percent," said Williams.

The requirement is that a student's score on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exam, counts for 15 percent of the student's final grade. Many parents and educators have said that percentage puts far too much emphasis on testing.

"The test changes the entire teaching dynamics and we care a lot about students and students need to have creative thinking and innovative thinking and not just be taught to a test," said Dineen Majcher who helped form Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment which is a group of parents and citizens concerned about state testing. "We do not believe that the state tests are giving us meaningful data nor preparing our children for college."

But, some business leaders say that's exactly what testing does.

"What is happened is the educators are reacting to the new, more rigorous standards that are being imposed and necessary if Texas is going to compete for jobs in the future, we have to have an educated workforce," said Bill Hammond, the President of the Texas Association of Business.

He believes the 15 percent policy should not be done away with for good.

"We certainly hope that will be reinstated at some point because it just makes good common sense that a final exam would count as part of a student's grade."

Legislation was filed this week that would make the 15 percent policy optional for school districts and another bill would eliminate the policy. Governor Rick Perry sent Commissioner Williams a letter asking him to defer the policy and saying he supports legislation that would do away with the policy. Now, it's up to state lawmakers to decide what changes are necessary to the school accountability system.

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