Education Policy

Student Tracking Policies Weaken Curriculum

After years of research and practice have demonstrated the failure of student tracking policies, Texas has returned to the practice under the guise of helping unsuccessful students be able to earn a minimal diploma. But the state of Texas is responsible for ensuring that all students have equal access to a high quality education and are able to attend and graduate from college.

No student or any group of students should be tracked into low-level courses nor into different diploma routes or graduation plans.

Schools should provide a high-quality curriculum that prepares all students to enroll in and complete college, supplemented by optional courses that prepare them to enter the workforce after graduation.

The same high-quality curriculum should be available to all students in all schools, including those placed in alternative education settings.

Resource Highlights

Three out of four parents of teens in the Texas Rio Grande Valley had not received info about the new tracking policies and graduation plans when they began – The Equal Voice-Rio Grande Valley Network surveyed more than 1,600 parents about their knowledge about Texas’ curriculum tracking policies and new graduation requirements. Few parents across 24 school districts and 30 cities in the Rio Grande Valley had received information from their children’s schools. IDRA analyzed the survey data and developed a report with the survey’s key findings, implications, and recommended next action steps for communities. Results were shared at an event and press conference in August 2015. See the bilingual infographic and the report as a PDF or on Slideshare.

Bilingual Flier on the New Texas Graduation Requirements
The Texas Legislature changed the graduation requirements for Texas students. The Texas diploma is no longer standard across the state. Some rigorous courses are no longer required by Texas, which means many students may not be prepared for college. But it doesn’t have to be this way. See this one-page flier for an overview of the requirements and what families, schools and communities can do.  (also available for black and white printing)

What Parents Want to Know about the New Texas Graduation Requirements
Texas has established new graduation requirements as a result of House Bill 5, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013. While it was intended to give students more course options, the system has weakened the overall curriculum. Students are no longer required to take English IV, Algebra II, full credits of both Chemistry and Physics, and full credits of both World History or World Geography. Yet, these courses are needed for college access and success. And completion of the new graduation plan does not automatically qualify students for Texas ’ Top 10 Percent public college admission. Given the maze of decisions families will need to make to ensure their children get a high quality, rigorous education that prepares them for college and career, IDRA has developed this bilingual eBook to outline what parents need to know. This information is also available as a bilingual PowerPoint presentation on IDRA’s Slideshare page.

HB5 Does Not Have to Block Students from College – San Antonio City Council Passes Distinguished as Default Resolution
IDRA commends the San Antonio City Council for its resolution passed today to encourage local school districts to choose the distinguished level of achievement as the default in graduation plans for all of their students. The recommendation was made by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, ¡PRESENTE! and IDRA. This distinguished achievement designation signifies that high school students have taken Algebra II, which is required for them to be eligible for “top 10 percent” automatic college admission. Also the SAT and ACT require knowledge of Algebra II. Making the distinguished achievement designation the default affirms the intention of school districts to prepare all students for college.

Tracking, Endorsements and Differentiated Diplomas – When ‘Different’ Really is Less
IDRA released an updated policy note following the close of the legislative session to give outline the new Texas graduation plans and changes to high school curriculum. The new system encourages placing students in different paths toward graduation, some college bound and some bound for labor. This is bad educational policy and practice. To create true opportunities for all of our children, we must commit to high quality curriculum for all students and full, equitable funding of all our schools, especially those neighborhood public schools in our neediest communities. It’s time for Texas to step up, not step back.

At a time when we most need strength, Texas education is at-risk of being weakened
IDRA President and CEO, María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., outlines how Texas’ new tracking graduation plans are likely to have a devastating effect on the state.

All Students Deserve a Chance – Don’t Take it Away
by Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D.

Texas Accountability – A Fast Track for Some; A Dead End for Others
by Josie Danini Cortez, M.A.

Texas Policymakers Live Up to Their Own Low Expectations – A Post Legislative Session Assessment of Changes Proposed and Reforms Adopted in 2009
by Albert Cortez, Ph.D.