Wednesday, June 03, 2009

End of TAKS will not end testing

Some good points made in this article though I don't know if TEA has the capacity to make graduation requirements though their research revealing the dismal passing rates of minority youth on the end-of-course exams does shed light on detrimental effects the tests will have on African American and Latino students.


Monday, June 01, 2009
Kim Melchor

"State considers increasing number of exams for graduation"

Texas students and teachers who celebrate the end of TAKS testing may be hasty in their revelry. Legislation for new accountability measures currently under consideration could increase the number of state-mandated tests required for graduation.

Cypress-Fairbanks Superintendent David Anthony expressed his opinions on the matter in a May 27 letter to parents in his district. Regarding the bill before the Senate, Anthony said the proposed change "would double the number of tests students are required to pass to graduate (eight exams compared to the current four." He added, "since the tests will be in the form of end-of-course exams, some students would have to pass tests beginning as early as seventh grade to qualify for high school graduation."

In the House of Representatives' version of the bill, state requirements are limited to passing 11th grade end-of-course exams, with local control over graduation requirements.

Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Guy Sconzo agreed the Senate version will require more state testing tied to graduation requirements.

"End-of-course tests make more sense than TAKS for determining high school proficiencies, but we are overtesting students already. The Senate version exacerbates that," said Sconzo.

"Graduation requirements are rightfully at the local district's discretion, and that does not need to conflict with a strong and fair accountability system," he said.

Former Humble ISD Board of Trustees President Dave Martin sets local district policy along with other trustees. Martin stated his opinion that "anytime the Texas House or Senate touches educational issues, things tend to go down a bad path."

"They know very little about education, and they really need to stay focused on their core responsibilities and leave education policy to education professionals and school districts and boards," said Martin.

He also offered the opinion that graduation policies and requirements should be set by TEA in conjunction with school administrators, school districts and school boards.

The changes are a result of 2007 legislation that called for testing immediately following specified secondary level courses.

The new exams will replace the TAKS, which was implemented in 2003. Under TAKS, students are required to take two tests in ninth grade and four each in 10th and 11th grades. Students are also required to pass a total of four exit level, subject-area tests.

The 2007 legislation called for development of secondary end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Algebra II, geometry, biology, chemistry, physics, English I, English II, English III, world geography, world history and United States history. The new graduation requirements will begin with the freshman class of 2011-12.

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