*Editor's Note. Updates to include that GPA requirement is eliminated from bill language.
A bill that could give Texas public high school seniors who have failed the state's mandatory exams a chance to graduate this May was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
State Sen. Kel Seliger's bill gives school officials the option to graduate students who have failed state exams if they meet certain criteria.
“This is a great first step towards addressing a very pressing situation in the current school year for students who may not graduate with their class, but deserve to,” said Seliger, R-Amarillo.
The bill would allow school districts to set up panels made up of educators, counselors and parents to weigh factors like grades, college entrance exam scores and attendance to determine whether a student should get a diploma despite state standardized exam performances. To graduate under the legislation’s alternative route, pass all courses required for graduation and receive a unanimous vote from the review panel. A requirement that the student also have a minimum 2.0 grade point average was eliminated from the bill to make it easier for school districts, with their varying GPA standards, to apply.
The bill is expected to make it to the Senate floor within the next few weeks. It cannot go to a Senate vote immediately unless lawmakers agree to suspend the 60-day rule which bars votes on legislation not designated as an emergency by the governor during the session's first two months.
Seliger's Senate Bill 149 comes two years after lawmakers voted unanimously to drop the number of required state exams from 15 to five for high school students.