Texoma schools plan ahead for possible testing changes

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Earlier this week, the Texas House and Senate unanimously passed bill that would slash the number of tests students have to take. Teachers and school administrators right here in Texoma say the time saved on testing would help them explore a new educational alternative.

The STAAR testing requirements had educators across Texas outraged at the amount of time they were spending teaching to tests, and the stress the requirements placed on students.

Governor Rick Perry is expected to sign House bill 5 into law. If he does, S&S, Whitesboro and Collinsville school districts will collaborate --offering kids a new way to learn.

"A lot of our students, especially our high school students, are not college bound," Superintendent Pete Slaughter said.

Whitesboro Superintendent Pete Slaughter says STAAR testing requirements did not necessarily have those students in mind.

"The problem was with all of the state testing is it really limited us in the ability to enroll our kids in let's say, other vocational opportunities," Slaughter said.

S&S school administrator, Lee Yeager, agrees.

"Kids are going to stay in school if they find it meets their needs," Yeager said.

If Governor Rick Perry signs House bill 5 into law, the number of required tests each year would drop from 15 to five. Legislators estimate that'd free up about 40 days of the school year that teachers spend focusing on the tests.

Whitesboro ISD, Collinsville ISD and S&S CISD say they'd use that time to help students seek out other educational paths. Beginning in the fall, seniors at the schools will be bused to Grayson College, to take classes like welding, cosmetology or EMT classes.

"So, it allows kids who are interested in pursuing something maybe in not necessarily a four year college, but they're interested in finding something type of career and technology program that they are targeting themselves for, and it gives them a jump on that," Yeager said.

"Basically, what our kids were telling us, or graduates were telling us, is that they would have enjoyed other opportunities that directly related to the field they were going into," Slaughter said.

Slaughter says vocational education like this allows students to gain credible certification, and be hired quickly for well-paying jobs.

Administrators from these Grayson County schools say once the program gets into full swing they hope to expand it, offering it to other grade levels.

Texas lawmakers also voted this week to restore three point $4 billion in funding cut from schools in 2011.

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