Academic Gains Slowing; No Consensus on Why

In January 2013, as he stood before an Austin gathering of about 3,000 Texas public school officials, the state’s education commissioner issued a plea.

If the state backed away from its high school graduation standards, Michael Williams said, it would do “nothing more than put at great risk the futures” of Texas students.

“We've got to hold the line, and all of us have got to show a little courage in this thing,” he said.

Five months later, the Texas Legislature passed a comprehensive overhaul of high school diploma requirements that included dropping an existing requirement that ...

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