Monday, March 02, 2009

Paying the TAKS Tax

Don’t fret, members of the Grand Obstructionist Party, there really isn’t a TAKS tax, not one that requires monetary remuneration, anyway.

The TAKS tax is one where students and teachers alike surrender their souls for another pointless round of endless questions, hours of non-stop silence, and indescribable boredom.

“Boredom” cannot completely describe the TAKS experience.

Call it “boredom with prejudice.” That’s closer, anyway.

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, round one, English Language Arts, is set to go for tomorrow. Students are being told to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast. Not mentioned, but certainly understood, is that they should refrain from playing Halo3, Counterstrike or World of Warcraft until 3:30 am.

Mainly because what they are in for is a grueling 4 hour (at least) experience that will determine whether some of them, 11th graders actually, will be able to claim their diplomas next year. As for the rest of them, I am still trying to figure out what possible incentive there is for doing well on their versions of the TAKS test. Unless the district, or the school site has thought about it, there is no incentive.

That doesn’t mean that there are no consequences. However, happily, for the students anyway, is there are no repercussions to them if they were to randomly bubble their answers, or engage in the time-honored tradition of “bubbling C.”

No, the consequences are all on the school and the district. Why? you may ask. Because the state’s annual campus and district ratings take into account not only the exit level TAKS scores, where there are student sanctions for doing poorly, but all level s of TAKS scores. That’s right, even though there are no consequences for poor performance on a TAKS test by 9th and 10th graders, that doesn’t mean that schools are off the hook in terms of their ratings, based on those test scores.

And for students, TAKS is such a boring test, why not “bubble C” so you can get back to reading the novel you were reading during all your classes?

Add to this the fact that TAKS has already been identified as the worthless test that it is, and has been voted out of existence by 2011. Students entering high school next year will not take a TAKS test . . . ever.

No, instead of 4 TAKS tests, students will, starting next year, take 16 End of Course tests.

Quadruple your fun. Now that’s what I call an improvement.

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