A State Senate Committee today is again examining a very emotional issue---whether to mandate that all students pass Algebra II as a requirement for graduation, or whether that time could be better taken on vocational courses, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  The Legislature last year allowed school districts the discretion of making Algebra II an elective, and many schools are debating that issue internally.  But several groups, including the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, have loudly protested dropping the requirement, saying knowledge of advanced mathematics is important to all students in all work fields, and is critical toward insuring that Texas has an educated work force.


  The State Board of Education mandated 'robotics' and 'digital electronics' for students who opt out of Algebra II.


  And, speaking of opting out, the State Senate Education Committee will also again take up the issue of whether the state has too many mandatory tests, even though the total number of tests students need to take to graduate from high school has been cut from 15 to 5.  Several students began 'opting out' of the STAAR Test earlier this month, saying standard end-of-course exams, and not high stakes tests, are the best way to gauge student performance.


  The State Senate will also look at redesigning the state-mandated English reading exam.