After years of whining and gnashing of teeth, Texas public schools were able to effect major change in the state’s testing programs in the last Legislature. Soon to be gone is the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS test. In its place is what the high dollar school business said would be much better than one big, high-stakes test: 12 different end-of-course exams.
In preparing for statewide implementation of the end-of-course exams, which begin to be phased in this school year for lower-classmen, over one hundred thousand Texas school students from over half of Texas’ districts, took what amounts to practice end-of-course exams this past year.
Guess what? They can’t pass these tests either. In Algebra 1, only 57% of students passed. In Biology only 57% of questions were answered correctly; only 46% in Chemistry; Geometry, Physics and U.S. History also saw correct answer rates in the 50’s. The only thing Texas school students scored anywhere near a passing grade in was what they call World Geography, which when you examine it is not so much geography as it is multi-cultural and current event dogma.
So what was the take of teacher groups, most of whom are affiliates of national teachers’ unions? The Dallas Morning News reports that “Teacher groups said the scores are another indication that the state is putting too much emphasis on high-stakes testing.” Yep, instead of being concerned that students are not mastering basic subjects, we should check their learning less.
I guess if my profession had such a failure rate I might want to get rid any measurements of performance too.
Robert Pratt is host of the top-rated Pratt on Texas radio program which can be heard at www.PrattonTexas.com