Monday, November 27, 2006

Adios to TAKS? Good, But What are the Alternatives?

Well, the good news is that the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test, or TAKS Test may be on the mat and getting a 10-Count (Jeez, I have GOT to stop watching “The Cinderella Man”). That’s what is on all the newswires today. My link at the San Antonio Express-News is the best one I could find with the most information about TAKS.

At least for the upper grades.

The widely and often quoted Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, is quoted this way everywhere, that the “Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills ‘has worn out its welcome, especially for high school and middle school grades.”

First, when was there a “welcome” for TAKS? I missed that. TAKS is and always was a monstrosity. It made a lot of people a lot of money, but all it did for teachers, students, parents and administrators was generate paperwork, TAKS tutorials, and degradation of teaching content as it was replaced by “teaching to the test”.

So that’s good. It is going out.

So what’s not so good?

Shapiro has an idea of how to replace TAKS in the upper grade levels, and that is a truly scary idea. End of Course Exams. Every 6 weeks you stop and give a standardized test (I assume, statewide) over the content you just taught.

Guess what this requires? Everyone must be on the same page at the end of every grading cycle. Do you know how hard that is? Try teaching on a strict calendar. Watch your calendar go to H-E double hockeysticks every time someone schedules an assembly, a career information day, a field trip for 1/10th of the school. Additionally, just think: every grading cycle must be the same from one district to another. Otherwise, what’s on the EOC Test can get out to districts on different schedules.

It’s called Test Security which is another TAKS mania.

OK, so the alternative, so we don’t have all of the above conflicts is that every EOC Test is developed within districts. Then where is the level playing field? Districts can make their EOC Tests incredibly simple and get good numbers that go into their AEIS ratings.

So I am assuming that, like the Christmas turkey I had last year, the one that wasn’t completely thawed, Shapiro’s ideas are half baked and we are going to process this one a little better.

I am characteristically pessimistic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the EOC exams would be administered once a year, the proposed date right now being in March.