Monday, May 14, 2007

TAKS keeps 40,000 from graduating

"A record number of high school seniors -- 40,182 -- who took the exit-level exams last year as juniors will not graduate this spring because they still have not passed one or more of the TAKS tests. That's 16 percent, up from 13 percent last year."

The public really does deserve to see these numbers broken down even further. Which students are the most adversely impacted? Might they be poor children? Or English language learners? Do males still perform less well than females? All this data that the state has an a clearer picture isn't provided.

Children should not have to bear the burden of unequal opportunity in our schools through such mechanisms as underfunding, tracking, or poor testing practices.

Plus, just becauses kids do poorly doesn't mean that someone doesn't profit from all of this. More failures equal more testing equal more money for the testing companies. And, student failures engender both public relations, and real education disasters, that pave the way for the privatizers who want to convert public spaces into corporate ones.

I'm reading a manuscript today on the politics of disaster written by Kenneth Saltman. It'll be out soon. Mainly, it considers how both natural and human-made disasters provide opportunities for the profiteers. One of his chapters in this vein is on NCLB. Powerful! Overall, his book demonstrates insatiable and predatory greed that drives neoliberal capitalism to feed on both natural and human-made disasters for profit. He cogently demonstrates how today's form of age-old class struggles is legitimated by deceitful and self-serving corporate values and high-sounding rhetoric (e.g., "No child left behind") that seek to privatize all aspects of human existence.

My thoughts for today. -Angela

Monday, May 14, 2007
Posted on Sat, May. 12, 2007
TAKS keeps 40,000 from graduating

Star-Telegram staff writer

Sophomores struggled, and seventh-graders improved on this year's Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.
The Texas Education Agency released passing rates Friday for the state's high-stakes assessment tests, which were given this spring.
Statewide, 70 percent of students passed all tests taken, up from 64 percent last year.

But the number of seniors who won't graduate this year because they failed at least one exit-level TAKS exam has reached an all-time high -- more than 40,000 students, or about 16 percent of those who took the tests as juniors last year.

The TAKS was given to about 3 million Texas students in grades three through 11.

The state administers 27 exams covering five subjects -- math, science, social studies, writing and English/language arts/reading.

Students who fail a test can take it again. Students must pass the third-grade reading test to be promoted to the fourth grade, and the fifth-grade reading and math tests to move up to the sixth grade. High school juniors must pass tests in English/language arts, math, science and social studies to graduate. They can continue taking those tests through their senior years.

Sophomore slump

Statewide, the percentage of 10th-graders who passed the English and science tests dropped.

English passing rates fell to 84 percent from 85 percent. Science test passing rates fell to 58 percent from 60 percent.

The trend held in area districts, too. In Grapevine-Colleyville, the passing rate for sophomore English tests dropped 2 percentage points to 95 percent. Sophomore rates dropped to 82 percent from 83 percent in math and to 82 percent from 85 percent in science.

In Hurst-Euless-Bedford, 10th-grade passing rates climbed to 79 percent from 73 percent in math, but fell to 91 percent from 94 percent in reading.

Seventh-grade strides

This year's seventh-graders were the first group of students who had to pass the third-grade reading test to be promoted to the fourth grade, and fifth-grade reading and math to move to sixth grade. Next year, they will be the first group who must pass the eighth-grade reading and math tests to go to ninth grade.

Passing rates for Texas seventh-graders jumped 6 percentage points in both math and reading, and 3 percentage points in writing.

"We are so proud of these students," Commissioner of Education Shirley J. Neeley said in a release. "They have indeed benefited from the reforms enacted during this decade."

In the Birdville school district, seventh-graders increased their passing rates by 10 percentage points in reading and 7 percentage points in math.

Exit level

A record number of high school seniors -- 40,182 -- who took the exit-level exams last year as juniors will not graduate this spring because they still have not passed one or more of the TAKS tests. That's 16 percent, up from 13 percent last year.
"I know the immediate concern deals with commencement activities, but students also need to keep their eye on the ultimate goal: earning a high school diploma," Neeley said. "I encourage all who still need to pass one or more parts of the TAKS to retake the test this summer."

But this year's juniors have improved over last year's. Passing rates increased on the exit-level English, math and science tests. Social studies held steady at 94 percent.

Staff writers Eva-Marie Ayala, Jessamy Brown, Sarah Bahari, Martha Deller and Terry Webster contributed to this report.

TAKS in area districts

Northwest Students improved in 22 of the 27 testing areas from last year. Every grade improved in math. Science scores, however, declined for 10th and 11th grades. Science will be a target area next year, Superintendent Karen Rue said.
Carroll Every student passed reading tests in the third, fifth, sixth and eighth grades, the seventh-grade writing tests, and exit-level social studies.

Keller Ninety-eight percent of third-graders passed the reading exam. Of Keller sophomores, 89 percent passed the English test, and 72 percent passed math and science.

Mansfield Schools saw gains in reading and social studies. The district continued to have mixed results in math and science. The passing rate for sophomore science dropped 6 percentage points from last year to 58 percent, and the rate for juniors dropped to 80 percent from 84 percent. In math, the ninth grade passing rate dropped to 59 percent from 61 percent, and the 10th-grade rate fell to 60 percent from 61 percent.

Westlake Academy Reading passing rates were 100 percent for fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and ninth-grade students. Every eighth-grader passed the science test. Eighty-five percent of seventh-graders earned commended performance designations in writing.

Castleberry Fourteen seniors will not graduate until they pass at least one more TAKS test, Superintendent Gary Jones said. But those seniors will participate in an August commencement if they pass the summer TAKS tests, he said.
Aledo Superintendent Don Daniel said only two of 276 Aledo High School seniors -- a foreign-exchange student and a mid-year transfer student -- will not graduate because of TAKS. That does not include students in the dropout recovery program, whose data was not available Friday, he said.

Azle Spokesman Ray Ivey said officials are generally pleased with the TAKS results, which show improvement in most categories. Eighteen seniors still need to pass at least one TAKS test to graduate, but they will be allowed to participate in commencement by signing a contract to pass the remaining TAKS, he said.

Everman Superintendent Jeri Pfeifer estimated that 30 seniors will not graduate because they still must pass at least one TAKS test.

Fort Worth and Arlington The districts did not release the results of their TAKS exams Friday.

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