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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Last Shot at TAKS Grad Test

This week's exam will be make or break for 11 percent of state seniors
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Nearly 11 percent of high school seniors in Texas – about 25,000 students – are still sweating out whether they'll receive a diploma next month because they have yet to pass the state's high school graduation exam.
The Texas Education Agency reported Tuesday that a significant number of seniors still have not passed one or more of the subject area tests on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills after four tries dating to the spring of their junior year. Their fifth and final chance will occur this week.
Although Texas students have been required to pass a graduation exam to earn a diploma since the late 1980s, the Class of '05 is the first that is being called on to pass the new TAKS graduation exam – a much more rigorous test than its predecessors.
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The percentages of Texas high school seniors passing all four subject area tests of the TAKS – English, math, science and social studies – after four tries (the final chance to pass is this week):

African-Americans, 82%
Hispanics, 83%
Whites, 95%
All students, 89%
SOURCE: Texas Education Agency

The good news is that 89 percent of the Class of '05 has cleared the TAKS hurdle.
"These are very encouraging results for our first class of TAKS graduates," state Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley said Tuesday.

"They are living up to the state's higher standards and expectations. Our school districts are again offering intense instruction to the students who are still attempting to pass one or more parts of the TAKS. The overall passing rate is sure to increase by the end of the school year."

Students have had the most difficulty with the science test, which has been passed by 94 percent. Identical percentages – 95 percent – passed the English and math tests. The fourth subject area test – social studies – has been passed by 99 percent of students.
Black and Hispanic students have passed in lower percentages than white students, according to an analysis of test results by the TEA.

The passing rate was 82 percent for black students and 83 percent for Hispanic students after four testing dates. About 95 percent of white students have passed the graduation test.
Among economically disadvantaged students, the passing rate was 82 percent, while for limited-English-speaking students it was 54 percent.

The TAKS graduation test was introduced in high schools in the spring of 2004, replacing the old Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. Because the TAKS is a more difficult exam that measures knowledge in two additional subject areas – science and social studies – the State Board of Education voted to set a lower passing standard in the initial years of the test.
This year's seniors had to correctly answer fewer than half the questions to pass the test under a phase-in plan approved by the board. Juniors this year have to get more answers correct to pass, and the cutoff score will increase even further for juniors next year.

E-mail tstutz@dallasnews.com

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/education/stories/042005dntextaks.2a11a9b7.html

1 comment:

  1. Eleven percent of high school students are preparing for their last chance of the year to pass the TAKS test. This test decides if they will graduate. What will happen to those students who do not pass this high stakes test? There are many who pass all their high school classes with flying colors and still cannot graduate by state standards. What are the consequences of these “high stakes?” There are enormous results from dropping out of high school. There is foregone income, increased crime, and less community involvement.
    I think its appalling that when you apply for college there are multiple areas of criteria that admission boards review such as: SAT, G.P.A, after school activities, and community involvement. This is also the same for graduate schools. However, only one test can determine if a student is allowed to graduate from high school. We have become an educational system that teaches to the test and ignores the importance of creative, cognitive, and cultural learning. I was not taught any history other than the mainstream Anglo-centered history throughout my educational career. Once I came to college I was lucky to have taken Mexican-American Studies classes. I felt that I have been robbed a history from the eyes of Mexican Americans. For example, I had never heard the name Dr. Hector Garcia before my college education. However, he grew up in Mercedes, Texas, my hometown. He was the founder of the G.I Forum and received great honors for his triumphs in human rights. Are we teaching to the test so much that local heroes are forgotten? A role model that could have inspired many students to go to college is neglected, perhaps because teacher must stay tied down to the test teaching. Granted that lack of history taught in a minority perspectives are common and due to many different reasons, however, it undeniably does affects the curriculum.
    In addition, it is empirically proven high-stakes testing adversely affects Mexican American and African American students compared to their Anglo counterparts. Therefore, in addition to the persistent negative schooling conditions that plague minorities there is an added barrier to academic success. Eleven-percent of the students are preparing to take a test that is ultimately deciding the rest of their life. What type of accountability is this?
    What most saddens about the 25, 000 that have taken the test four times and failed is that they have not had efficient time to be “taught the test.” They are accustomed to the TAAS, which is significantly easier. The TAKS graduation test was only implemented in the spring of 2004. Obviously they have passed prior TAAS tests to be a junior in high school. I feel like the system has failed them. Not surprisingly minorities scores fourteen percent lower than their white peers. Schools becoming more and more like gatekeepers for minority students. Minority student are plagued with segregation, inferior school facilities, and less funding. However, they are expected to pass one new test that they are not accustomed to decide their school career up to that point.

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