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Texas Must Avoid a Return to the Vocational Track

Welner and Burris caution against the possibility that the tiered diploma system established by Texas House Bill 5 may lead to lower tracks being disproportionally filled by students in poverty and students of color. Pointing to historical precedent, they note that “When lawmakers adopt these misguided policies, they open up opportunity gaps that inevitably lead to the achievement gaps that these same lawmakers then decry.”  They propose that in addition to estimating the Act’s effect on high school graduation rates, college readiness, admissions, completion, working credentials, employment rates and earnings, the external evaluator to be hired by the Texas Education Agency also estimate the Act’s effect on the resulting racial and socio-economic stratification between the tracks.