Passing an exit-level high school competency exam (TAKS)

So, the big issue today here in Houston (and maybe Texas) is the high school exit-level test called the TAKS test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. In the Houston Chronicle newspaper, there was a story Sunday about a senior high school student transferring to Colorado to graduate from high school because she cannot pass Texas' TAKS test. Colorado has no high school exit level test to demonstrate competence from high school. So she plans to transfer to Colorado to avoid the TAKS test and get her high school diploma.

In Texas, every student has to pass the TAKS or you do not get a diploma, you get a certificate of attendance. You do get five attempts to pass the test. Anyway, so the parents have approved her moving to Colorado to live with her grandparents for a few months so that she can graduate from high school in Colorado and not "jeapordize" her offered scholarships to college. She stated that she wants to be a Crime Scene Investigator. Appparently she watches CSI a lot and thinks it might be fun to work with a cool guy that wears sunglasses and she can wear those "cute" skirts. {My snide comment}

Anyway, the TAKS test is not that hard. It is written at a very low level, maybe about 8th grade. The last few years Texas has been trying to raise the level of the test because it was so easy. Back in 1995 or so a teacher came to work in Texas from New York. He lasted one year and quit. Prior to leaving he wrote a letter to the editor and presented a representative set of questions from the math portion of the TAAS test. TAKS used to be called the TAAS test. He was trying to raise awareness about the VERY easy type of problems that were being assigned on the TAAS test and the miserable results that the schools were getting from the students.

The teacher from New York got into trouble when he attempted to apply "standards" and "rigor" to the curriculum he was teaching. He was trying to do what was best for the kids. He understood that if you have high expectations for the kids, they will respond with improved performance and they will ultimately benefit from the education that they will receive. In other words, the harder you work the more that you will learn. I think he was harassed by the administration to pass kids that did not deserve to be passed and he refused. Parents complained to the school and he ultimately chose to quit rather than continue to fight the losing battle.

Anyway, I took those 25 questions from the newspaper, re-typed them into a test of sorts and asked my daughter Amanda to "take a shot" at them. Remember, these were supposedly exit level type high school TAAS questions. My daughter was in the 5th grade at the time. Amanda took the "test" I gave her and she missed only two or three of the problems. This is not meant to demonstrate that my daughter was a "genius" but that the test was so easy that a 5th grader could pass it. Admittedly, Amanda was an above average student but she was still a 5th grader. My wife and I made sure that our kids learned what they were supposed to because we made sure they did their work evey day and got an education in the process. You can look at my other posts for those details.

Anyway, here is another example of how parents make excuses for their kids and will look for any alternative to demanding that their kids simply do their work.

I don't think that this kid is going to get to wear those "cute" skirts and hang with a cool guy that wears sunglasses unless she changes her work ethic and her attitude.

What do you think?

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