Several Galveston County education officials hope a new law could help long-struggling students graduate from high school.

Santa Fe, Dickinson and Texas City school district trustees recently passed resolutions taking advantage of Senate Bill 463, which allows local committees to consider alternative graduation requirements for students who couldn’t pass one or two standardized tests.

“It depends on how you look at it,” said Julie Southworth, director of secondary education at Texas City Independent School District. “There probably aren’t an overwhelming number of students who fall into this category. But, to be a student who wasn’t able to graduate because you couldn’t pass one or two tests, it’s a big deal to have your high school diploma.”

The law, which went into effect May 3 after Commissioner Mike Morath altered the administrative code, applies specifically to students who entered the ninth grade before the 2011-2012 school year. Those students would have taken the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests, which pre-date the current State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, as the state-mandated tests.

The legislation amended a 2015 law that already allowed for alternative routes to graduation for students if a committee approved, Santa Fe officials said.

Under the new rule, local committees including a district superintendent or designee, a district representative with expert knowledge in the failed subject area and the person seeking graduation would meet and evaluate whether the student should be eligible for a high school diploma, Dickinson officials said.

“The committee will look at several things — a combination of what they did in high school and also what they’ve done since high school,” Southworth said.

“They can go back and look at test results and see that, while they struggled in math, maybe they missed passing by a question or two. Or maybe they passed the class and just have test anxiety. They can look at overall transcripts and also look at work and life experience since leaving school.”

Committees should also consider whether a student has entered the workforce, enrolled in an associate or alternative degree certification program, enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program or enlisted in the armed forces, according to the bill.

Students that might be eligible for graduation under the new legislation have a limited amount of time to contact local districts, officials said.

The law is set to expire Sept. 1, 2019.

Texas City school officials are taking the opportunity to get the word out about the possibility, Southworth said.

The district has so far heard from one interested person and knows of a few others that might fit the requirements, Southworth said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230;



(6) comments

David Doe

There will ALWAYS be those that fail in life. To take those and change the rules so they don't fail only Lowers the bar. If we ever wondered why our children don't do as well as those in other countries this is it. Maybe a Participation trophy is in order here.

Rusty Schroeder

Why have standardized tests then? The districts train for the tests, that takes away from the basic principle of teaching a subject. Put the power of pass or fail back in the teachers hand or pen. Agree with the participation trophy comment, all that is missing is orange slices and juice boxes.

Ron Shelby

It does make you question the wisdom of this. We wouldn't want the achievement devalued as its a valuable indicator to businesses. How can an employer rely on the HS diploma, unless those granted under this law are specifically marked something like: "graduated under alternative evaluation".

Rusty Schroeder

Agreed Ron. What I hope this is not, is a way for districts to increase graduation rates and standings for the sole purpose of increased state funding.

George Croix

"But, to be a student who wasn’t able to graduate because you couldn’t pass one or two tests, it’s a big deal to have your high school diploma.”

It's an even bigger deal for that diploma to MEAN something.
It's supposed to signify an education achieved to a certain level tnhat others who get one also had to match.

If there simply must be an alternate set of standards, or lack of standards, then the certificate of achievement should NOT be the same as it is for students who did complete the work as prescribed.

I wonder how all those in favor would feel if, at their jobs, they did what they were expected to do and got the same recognition and raises as one who did not.

James Bowles

If yu do this the high school diploma will mean zero

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