Texas lags behind most other states in preparing high school students for college, and should update its readiness standards, including more oversight of dual credit courses, Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Raymund Paredes told state senators at a hearing on March 29.
"And some did not appear ready to hear it," reported Kiah Collier, in the Texas Tribune. Lawmakers are apparently touchy on this subject. On one side are parents complaining of standardized "test fatigue," and on the other is a business community concerned about a purported lowering of high school standards, which employers say diminishes the skills of prospective workers.
“We’re close to the bottom on SAT scores, so that’s cause for alarm,” said Dr. Paredes at a joint meeting of the Senate Education and Higher Education committees.
Please read the entire article for a nice overview of the hearing, as well as various points of contention, including the highly tentative impact of HB 5—the 2015 law that changed high school graduation standards—and dual credit, which has expanded dramatically.
According to the article, senators expressed impatience with the lack of significant improvement in college readiness.
Here is an interesting passage (and please note the comment on dual credit at the end):
The state has set a goal of seeing 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds with some kind of postsecondary credential by 2030. The most recent statistics show that 20 of 100 Texas 8th graders had secured a postsecondary credential within 11 years.
But Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said repeatedly Tuesday he thinks the state is on “leading edge of great innovation” and is making significant progress on the readiness issue.
“As far as the seamless, I think we’re growing into that,” he said.
He and Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, pointed to a huge jump in participation in dual credit courses and high schoolers graduating with associate’s degrees as evidence of progress. Last year, lawmakers approved a bill eliminating a maximum on the number of dual credit courses high schoolers can take.
Bettencourt described dual credit as the “perfect hybrid between lower ed and higher ed.”
But Paredes said the state is not ensuring that dual credit coursework — overseen locally — is “appropriately rigorous” and needs to conduct a review.
Students should prove they are college ready before taking those courses, Paredes said, guessing it was “a limited pool” despite explosive growth in dual credit. The best way of determining readiness, he said, is with a special college entrance exam the state recently developed called the Texas Success Initiative.