Is the TAKS test in public schools doing its job?
Like so much with high stakes standardized assessment, I think that the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) has its proponents and detractors. Those who think that the test is doing its job points to the fact that there is a definable end to which students, teachers, and administrators can be measured against in order to find success. The primary difference with this particular assessment is that it truly is high stakes in that seniors in high school must pass it in order to graduate. This means that 12 years of formal schooling can be negated with a test given in four parts. That has caused some parents and students to transfer out of public schools in their Senior year in order to graduate on time and go to college. Conceivably, a student could be admitted into a prestigious univeristy or college with graduation being held in the balance by the TAKS test. This has caused some to question whether or not the assessment is worthwhile. Texas House Bill 1031 has been passed to eliminate the TAKS test at the high school level so that graduation is not held as hostage based on test performance. The logical extension is whether or not some level of reevaluation is needed for the entire process of high stakes standardized assessment. I think that the legislation would not have been passed had the public felt comfortable with the direction of education under the TAKS, which means that I think that some level of thought has been given to its effectiveness.
The TAKS test similar to other man-created rubrics such as the SAT, LSAT, MRE, GRE or the ACT are unable to measure what people learn and have retained.
I have taught over 25 years and I have dried tears from the eyes of 9 year olds afraid that if they do not pass the TAKS they won't be loved by their family and friends. What kind of test would coerce those types of negative thoughts? What parent or real friend would utter those words to an innocent child?
Our education system is broken as evidenced by the recent film, "Waiting For Superman." A film that exposes the grotesque social, racial, economic and economic divide. The TAKS test is not a comprehensive solution or panacea to all that ails the school system.
Our children are absolutely "left behind". Every child is a little more bereft of the thrill of real life nature, drama, spontaneous banter and necessary exercise and breathing when we deprive them of the beauty and mystery and ecstasy of exultant verifiable synaptic and dendritic connections.
Instead of a number two pencil and a sterilized test booklet; we would better serve posterity by taking our children to the local art museum and of course, the children's natural science museum. Bright, colorful Playscapes and tons of dirt, art and sunshine are also on the materials supply list.
I think with any state-administered test there are the various negatives and positives. Firstly it is a real positive that such tests provide quantifiable results that "show" how much children have learned or not. Such information is very important when trying to assess whether education is "working" or not. However, as raised in #3, tests create massive and unnecessary stress on teachers and students and are not always a fair reflection of "learning." Likewise, they arguably detract from "learning" by focusing on some aspects of a curriculum and prevent wider learning from occurring.
When the measure of a student's education comes down to a test, then teaching to the test dominates the curriculum, and other genuinely important learning experiences go by the wayside. When a test can measure the growth of each student over the course of time, then I think we would be on to something. That would be a more valuable piece of data to inform instruction, rather than a test like this being a "gotcha" in the end.
I feel that high stakes tests are only one part of measuring the learning that takes place in a school system or with an individual student. I also feel that sometimes we spend so much time teaching the tested material we forget that we are trying to develop our students into lifetime learners.
I believe it is too easy.... :/
I personally understand the need for some type of measuring stick to identify the growth of a student, groups of particular students and schools in general. The TAKS and the incoming STARR for Texas places entirely too much emphasis on passing the test. You miss many teachable moments when you have to teach to a test rather than teach some unusual elements of a particular subject. I teach World History and Geography in an alternative school. I find that my students need a connection, a spark, something to want them to remember the facts I am feeding them. When you spend so much time worrying about passing the test I find that teachers miss out on so many teachable moments. Many of our kids hate school because it is not about learning and discovery but being fed district test materials so that the school can maintain its standing. Neither of which benefit the student.
No, people spend so much time preparing for one test that they don no have time to learn other things.
Oh my goodness, this is such a relevant topic for me right now!
It has long been my belief that, if I was doing my job well, then all of my students would pass the TAKS test. So far, that has proven to be true. However, I have been fortunate to either work in schools with a higher socio-economic base where most parents have attended college and expect their children to as well or to work with advanced students.
Recently, several districts like Houston ISD have based teacher bonuses on student performance on the TAKS test. I think this is completely unfair. As we all know, there are some students that are not equiped to pass the TAKS test whether it be from a learning disability, missed skills in the past or lack of educational motivation. These are the kids that you cannot light a fire under, no matter how many cartwheels you perform for them. If a teacher has many of these kids in class, how is it just to base his/her livelihood on the performance of students who just don't care?
As a retired teacher, I was completely involved in administering the TAKS test in Texas for the past 10 + years. The test had its perks, in that it would get the teachers motivated to have the students pass it. However, it caused so much stress on the teachers, students and parents, that it was detrimental in some students failing under pressure. It took the 'fun' out of school for a lot of students, and in my area, which was special education, it was cause for more that one student dropping out of school during their junior year because they were under pressure of either passing the test or not graduating. That changed later on, but by then, it was too late for some.