Monday, April 16, 2007

Well, the TAKS is over Critics, including its creator, say it’s too difficult to unravel and becoming over-weighted in use

TAKS gets a rough assessment of its own

10:31 PM CDT on Monday, April 9, 2007
By Shern-Min Chow / 11 News

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TAKS, also known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Test, has been getting a rough assessment of its own from some school officials.

“It’s just about ‘did your child pass.’ And that’s not enough for most parents,” HISD Trustee Harwin Moore said.

HISD is joining the movement spearheaded by two state bills that would replace high school TAKS tests with end-of-course exams.

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HISD students take the TAKS test.

“Well, the TAKS is over multiplied costs, so if I’m a science teacher teaching biology, I’m gonna have to stop and review the kids over chemistry, physics and general physical science and waste about a month of my instructional time,” Gayle Fallon with the Houston Federation of Teachers said.

The alternative end-of-course exams – also standardized – would cover only the subject taken. Districts could also use it as a final exam.

But there is much more up for debate here. There is also a move to sunset the entire state accountability system by 2009.

Critics, including its creator, say it’s too difficult to unravel and becoming over-weighted in use.

In that arena, HISD wants accountability to move away from minimum standards and towards measuring growth, which is the basis for its new and controversial teacher bonus system.

Perhaps the most enticing of all is a proposed federal bill regarding the embattled No Child Left Behind Act.

“Education is a function of the state, not the federal government,” Fallon said.

The new bill, introduced by Republicans, would allow individual states to opt out of testing mandates and still get federal funds.

“I would encourage the state of Texas to take advantage of the change of the federal law that would ensure that our principals basically had one target to shoot for,” HISD Superintendent Dr. Abelardo Saavedra said.

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