Texas 8th graders falling behind

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Texas 2036 and the George W. Bush Institute, both of Dallas, claim, Texas eighth-graders have fallen so far behind their peers in other states that they could lose about $104 billion in future earnings.

Why it matters: Spending on education is typically the largest item in the Texas budget, but it appears that learning results aren’t catching up with other states.

The big picture: Conversations about the public education system in Texas have become highly politicised in recent years.

We’ve seen battles about the diversion of public money to private schools and home education, the kinds of books that libraries can stock, the rights of transgender students, and how public schools are treating their teachers of colour, all while teacher burnout remains high.

What they found: Once a pupil falls behind, he or she can’t catch up, it says.

  • In maths, 60% of Texas children in grades 3 through 12 are below grade level, while in reading, 48% are below grade level.
  • Within six years of graduating from high school, only 22% of Texas eighth graders earn a degree or certificate.
  • Nearly a fifth of Texas 8th graders aren’t graduating.
  • These challenges affect low-income students most.

Meanwhile: People moving to the state have twice as many bachelor’s degrees as native Texans, making it harder for natives to navigate the workforce.

By the time today’s Texas eighth-graders grow up, the report warns, the disparities are likely to have worsened.
Flashback: Dating back to its founding, Texas has been committed to public education.

The failure of Mexico to provide a public education system was cited in Texas’ 1836 Declaration of Independence from Mexico as a reason for secession.
A version of George W. Bush’s controversial No Child Left Behind Act had first been implemented in Texas when he served as governor and then became federal law when he became president.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, former governor Rick Perry touted Texas’ graduation rates.

What they’re saying: According to the research, “Too many young Texans face an uncertain and perilous economic reality without a high school diploma, unprepared to pursue a post-secondary degree or certification and, as a result, cut off from good-paying jobs.”

Certainly, the government needs to do more to help our kids get ready for the future. We need to double down on data-driven reforms to invest in our students and their success,” said Margaret Spellings, president of Texas 2036 and former US Secretary of Ed, in a statement.

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