Once the legislative session started, we drafted testimony for key committee hearings in support of limiting state standardized testing. The comprehensive education reform bill, House Bill 5, emerged as the bill that also limited standardized testing at the high school level. We had our facts and figures, but what also made an indelible mark on legislators was hearing from students about how the STAAR tests were robbing them of creativity in the classroom and limiting their plans for the future. We attended many hearings, and let our members know about what was said and what was asked. Some questions did not have an answer.
In addition to countless legislative visits, we wrote press releases and letters to the editors; we posted on Facebook; we spoke with reporters and would-be reporters; we started a blog, Twitter feed, andSlideShare account. Our “call to action” emails were especially effective when specific action was needed in a defined time frame. The response was humbling. Be it emails or phone calls, our members would inundate legislative offices. Their passion really came through.
Toward the end of session, after HB 5 had passed both the Senate and the House by unanimous vote, we heard that the governor might veto the bill. After our call to action, the governor’s office received hundreds of calls an hour, and he signed the bill into law on June 10, 2013. As passed, HB 5 lowered the number of end-of-course exams high school students must pass to graduate from 15 to 5, among other reforms for the assessment and accountability systems.