Texas Legislature Considering Replacing The TAKS

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After years of frustration regarding the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, it appears that changes are underway in Austin.

On Thursday, the Texas Senate passed Bill 1031, that will require school districts to give only high school students a course-ending test at the end of each year instead of taking the TAKS.

The bill calls for students:

1. To take three exams each (12 in total) in English, math, science, and social studies over the course of their high school career.

2. Each exam score would only account for 15 percent of the final grade in that course.

3. In order to graduate all course-ending exams scores must equal a cumulative score of at least 840 points.

Bobby Solvak, president of the College Station Education Association, said it could be a better way to test students.

"The best testing are the ones based on state and national standards that are developed by the teachers and test on what the teachers actually taught in classrooms," Slovak said.

In general, officials with local school districts agree with Slovak.

Bryan Independent School District's Director of Communications, Sandy Farris, said the proposal could enable teachers and students to be better prepared for what will be covered on those test.

"The end-of-course exams, I think will be better because they're more content focused," Farris said.

Clark Ealy, Executive Director for Accountability and Planning for College Station Independent School District, said the testing change would concentrate on recent subject matter.

"The state mandated testing is tied directly to the curriculum that's just been instructed," Ealy said.

Another major benefit that both Bryan and College Station school districts recognize is that graduation will not depend on students passing four parts of one test.

"It really has the potential to reduce the stress for students because they're not taking four high stakes exams as eleventh graders they're taking a number of test along the way," said Ealy.

"They feel like if they've met the requirements they pass the courses then they should be able to graduate from high school and I think the change to end-of-course exams that's going to happen," Farris said

If passed, the bill would be implemented in 2009. The bill is currently under consideration by the Texas House of Representatives.