Katy ISD to allow retesting on all failed exams

August 31, 2010 4:31:07 PM PDT
It's a new bill that could have an impact on the grades your children earn in class. The bill does away with giving students minimum failing grades. So now, each school district has to come up with its own policy when it comes to grades.

In Katy, the school board has voted to let students who fail tests retake them until they pass. This is just the latest step in an ongoing battle over minimum grades after the Texas legislature passed a "truth-in-grading" law last year.

Eleven Houston-area districts sued, but a court upheld the law. Now critics of the retest policy in Katy say the district is trying to find a loophole.

Test-taking at Katy schools might be a little less nerve-racking for students later this school year after the school board voted to let students retake tests they fail.

No one from Katy ISD would go on camera to talk about the new policy, but it already has some fans among parents waiting to pick up their kids from Katy ISD's Beck Junior High School.

"For my girls, on the rare occasion, I think instead of them feeling defeated, it's kind of is an encouragement," Katy ISD parent Dena Nunn said.

"I know that every student is different, and some students freeze up when they take a test," Katy ISD parent Greg Garcia said.

But not everyone agrees.

Katy Resident Angelo Barreto runs a barber shop down the street from a Katy High School.

"I think there ought to be a limit of how many chances you get," Barreto said. "Because if you're not college material, you're not college material."

And at the Houston Federation of Teachers, which doesn't represent Katy teachers, they're watching the new policy closely.

"The thing that worries us is nothing spreads faster in education than a bad idea or a way to get around state law," said Gayle Fallon, head of the federation.

Fallon claims Katy ISD led the charge to overturn the statewide "truth-in-grading" law, which banned minimum grades, or determined students could not get below a certain score, regardless of the work they did. A court upheld that law. The 11 Houston-area school districts that sued, including Fort Bend, Clear Creek and Dickinson, decided not to appeal.

But Fallon says Katy is looking for a loophole.

"It's grade inflation," Fallon said. "That's the politest thing you can call it."

There aren't many details about the retest plan just yet. A Katy ISD spokesman told me on the phone that the principals will be meeting in mid-September to decide the details of the plan. It will take effect sometime this school year.

You can read more about this story in The Katy Sun, a Houston Community Newspapers partner.

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