TAKS Results

Yesterday I had the “fun” job of sending three of my PACE (advisory/homeroom) students to our Assistant Principal to get their latest TAKS results. I spent the remainder of the period consoling them and trying to raise their spirits. You see, if they don’t pass all four sections of the TAKS, they don’t graduate. Two of the young men still need to pass the math section and one young man needs to pass science.

I can’t even describe how heart-wrenching it was for me to have this 18 year old, 6 foot tall, ‘B” average student sobbing because he is afraid he won’t graduate and is going to let his family down. I tried to play the role of the “good” teacher and advisor. “Don’t give up. You still have one more chance to pass it, and I think you can do it.” But he is defeated. He no longer believes he can pass it.

He is a gifted student. He is good at writing, at rhyme, at making people laugh and feel good about themselves. But he is bad at math. He has persevered through thirteen years of school, but he can’t pass one math test so the state of Texas says he can’t graduate. The absurdity of this astounds me.

I have been carrying this scenario from yesterday around in my mind, and today I came across this quote in the article “Don’t Fear the Digital” published in Time magazine.

Steven Johnson writes

“I believe this dramatic spike in digital participation is, for the most part, sharpening the minds of Generation M, not dumbing them down. But it’s hard to see that improvement without the right yardstick. The skills they’re developing are not trivial. They’re learning to analyze complex systems with many interacting variables, to master new interfaces, to find and validate information in vast databases, to build and maintain extensive social networks crossing both virtual and real-world environments, to adapt existing technology to new uses. And they’re learning all this in their spare time–for fun!

Now ask yourself this question: In the offices of the future, which skill set will today’s kids draw upon in their day-to-day tasks? Mastering interfaces, searching for information, maintaining virtual social networks and multitasking? Or doing algebra? I think the answer is obvious. It’s a good bet that 99% of kids will never use algebra again after they graduate from high school. And yet thanks to the testing establishment, we know a staggering amount about the algebraic skills of today’s teenagers but next to nothing about the skills they’re actually going to use.”

I was so excited to hear my thoughts voiced by someone in the media. If we can just get more people to see the relevance of technology and the irrationality of the “hyper-testing” craze occurring in education, maybe we can make a difference.

Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Standardized Testing, TAKS

2 Comments on “TAKS Results”

  1. Thank you for the links to the Morning News articles. Clearly Mr. Johnson hits the nail on the head with his comments. All of us who have actually looked at the TAKS know that there is very little connection between what is tested and what is needed in life after high school.

    The IISD Board, and I think the IISD administrators miss the point when they withhold ceremony participation in defense of maintaining standards. No one asked them to give the students a diploma. They were only asked to recognize the hard work that the students had put in and their success in meeting all course requirements.

    I think that administrators and board members also forget that not only did these state testing requirements not exist when they graduated from high school, but that the course requirements were far easier than those faced by today’s students. Mr. Johnson’s point about the irrelevance of Algebra was once recognized in schools because it was NOT a requirement for graduation. That’s right, not even Algebra 1 was required to “earn” a diploma when many of the board members and administrators graduated from high school.

    I doubt that many of the administrators and board members have taken the time to take the TAKS themselves. It is readily available and they ought to avail themselves of the opportunity. Some Academy teachers may recall that we took the time to do that a few years ago. Our results showed that many college graduates would need to do considerable remedial work to pass the TAKS!

    I believe that the reasons given by the board hide the true rationale behind the decision. Board members and administrators are frightened to death by the accountability standards being used to “measure” success in schools. The reason for the decision was that they are afraid that changing the policy would lessen the pressure on students to pass and might negatively impact the district’s test results.

    There is no doubt that sanity will eventually prevail and the pedulum will swing back toward relevance in education and away from meaningless testing. Sadly, that will not help your students who are the victims of this insanity.

  2. Michel Sanchez Says:

    It was a sad day to see students in tears because they haven’t passed the Math or Science test. These students are not slackers! They work hard in their classes and with each failed test, they feel more and more defeated. They will spend their last months of high school burden with the weight of trying to pass TAKS. It is a shame. If only these students lived in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania or any other state where testing is not tied to graduation. A student should never be defined by their test scores.

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