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House Bill Would Ease Graduation Requirements & Nightly Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The House has approved a plan that would ease graduation requirements for high school students.

The plan, approved Wednesday, changes a requirement that a series of end-of-course tests count 15 percent of a student's grade and toward graduation requirements.

But, the House agreed to allow school districts to determine how much test scores would count toward the student's final grade. Students would be required to pass four of the 12 end-of-course exams - including in algebra II and English III - to graduate.

The new testing system, called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, goes into effect next year.

Critics, including the Senate education leader, argue that the House plan would allow students to fail eight end-of-course exams and still graduate from high school.

Southwest Airlines patches hole in jet in Ariz.

Southwest Airlines is patching a large hole in a Boeing 737 that made an emergency landing in southwestern Arizona last week, but the company won't say when or if it will be back in service.

Engineers with Boeing are working with the airline on the fix.

Federal investigators cut out a large section of the roof surrounding the 5-foot by 1-foot tear so they can analyze why a rivet line failed.

Teams of Southwest mechanics have placed a large green patch on the plane as it sits on a runway in Yuma. An airport official says she expects the plane to fly out within days.

A hole ripped in the plane last week as it climbed after leaving Phoenix. Inspections on hundreds of older 737s have been ordered.

Cliburn piano contest for amateurs set for May

A kindergarten teacher, a screenwriter and a Formula One race car designer are among 77 people competing in the Van Cliburn Foundation's Sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.

The event is for those 35 and older who don't earn their living teaching or playing the piano, although many are classically trained pianists. Cliburn Foundation officials announced Wednesday the competition will be the last week of May at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

The event is an offshoot of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, now held every four years in the pianist's hometown of Fort Worth, most recently in 2009.

Cliburn isn't a judge at either competition but presents awards. The acclaimed pianist first gained prominence after winning Moscow's first Tchaikovsky International Competition held in 1958.