As we enter the new school year, the Texas Education Agency has released a new report that spells good news for Texas schools and students. The Class of 2014 achieved the all-time highest high school graduation rate. In fact, out of the over 330,000 students in that class, over 88% graduated within four years. Even better, the total rate of students who completed in four years, fulfilled GED requirements or continued on for another year reached over 93%. That achievement is a tribute to the hard work by teachers, administrators, students and families in our school systems.

The report goes on to say that among the students who drop out, the highest proportion is from students in the 12th grade, regardless of gender. Despite gains in the graduation rate, this information further shows that students of color, those from low-income households and English language learners have higher rates of non-completion. These disparities reveal that more should be done to encourage high school graduation and that we should empower our teachers and school administrators to educate students rather than rely on standardized tests and more regulation.

One of my passions is improving public education. I'm proud that during my time in the Legislature, we have reduced the number of standardized tests and brought back career and technical education in schools. Together, along with adequate funding, we can continue to build a high-quality education system for all students, regardless of race, gender or district.