State Board of Education Debates HB5 Endorsements

The Texas Tribune


A battle over whether Texas should require algebra II for a high school diploma — a fight that many state lawmakers hoped they had already settled — has resurfaced as the State Board of Education convenes this week.

In May, the Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 5, a sweeping overhaul of the state's high school curriculum, in part to allow more opportunities for career training for students at risk of dropping out or who do not intend to attend college. The changes in the new law included dropping an existing requirement that all students take algebra II to graduate in favor of allowing their selection of diploma "endorsements" in a specialized areas like science and technology, business or humanities to determine which math courses they take.

But the legislation left it up to the State Board of Education to decide which courses students take to fulfill those endorsements, and now it appears the 15-member elected board may decide to make algebra II one of them. Since the end of the legislative session, a coalition of business groups and education advocates has mobilized to push the board to require the advanced math course because of concerns over how eliminating it would affect the academic progress of low-income and minority students in the state.

The coalition has argued that the change will limit students' future career and academic opportunities before they understand the consequences.

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