TAKS Test Helping or Hindering Students?

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

It's how the state measures what a student learns and a teacher teaches. But does a test create headaches more often than it helps?

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, has been around for about six years. But there's a growing chorus of teachers and students who think it's not the best measure of a student's academic achievements.

It's a high stakes test Manuel Prado begins preparing students for the minute they get in the classroom.

"I think that the anxiety starts in the beginning of the year after you get the kids and you need to take them to a certain level where they can pass a test and meet the standards," Prado said.

As a third grade bilingual teacher at Fannin Elementary, Prado says there's a lot riding on teachers and students to do well on the TAKS test.

"We get very worried," Prado said. "They need to pass the reading test in order to get into the fourth grade."

Kyle Williams chose to declare his Independence from the English portion of the TAKS test Tuesday morning.

"I don't have anything against the TAKS specifically, what it is is the teachers teaching to the TAKS test all year long and not teaching the students actual work," Kyle Williams said.

The sophomore at Navasota High School walked out on the exam because he says all he's learned the past several months is how to take the TAKS exam.

"He mentioned he felt it would be morally dishonest for him to take the test," Michelle Williams, Kyle's mom said.

Kyle Williams was suspended for his actions. Navasota school officials say it was important for them to protect the integrity of the testing environment for the remaining students.

James Kracht, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M, was on the board that developed the curriculum for the TAKS test, but even he questions the exam's ability to measure academic success.

"What happens is that teachers and administrators begin to target what's on the TAKS test rather than the entire curriculum, and one of the problems is the curriculum shrinks," Kracht said.

Prado believes it's important to have a standardized measure to keep students and teachers accountable. He's just not sure the TAKS is the best fit.

"In a regular classroom, a kid might be getting all 90's and 100's, but at the time of the test, or the stress, or maybe they're not good test takers, that score could be affected," Prado said.

News 3 also wanted to see what some of local lawmakers had to say about the TAKS exam.

State representative Fred Brown tells News Three the exam is not representative of what's being taught the entire year, and that because of the pressures teachers often do teach to the test.

He says the TAKS will be going away in the not so distant future and will be replaced with an end of course exam.

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