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D. Student Learning and Instruction Subcommittee Report


Questions to be answered by the subcommittee:

  • When should the TAKS test be given?
  • Would giving the test later in the year ensure that instructional time is used effectively?


Findings of the subcommittee:

Members of the Committee met with a member of TEA staff to discover how the date is determined for TAKS tests in order to draft questions for Comptroller's survey. Much of the discussion among committee members centered on philosophical issues regarding TAKS tests with regard to: gifted students, teaching to the test, multiple criteria tests, quality of instruction after tests are given and pressure on students, teachers and administration to produce results. Strong support for local control for calendaring the school year so that is based on individual community needs that vary throughout the state was also discussed. We realized that those issues were outside the charge to our committee but wanted to include them as part of our report:

The following email from a teacher in Region 16 illustrates one teacher's concern over the time the tests are given:

I am extremely pleased to see that TAKS testing date is under consideration! After teaching only 3 years in high school, I can honestly say the school year is OVER after the tests have been given. Yes, we can successfully conduct class and poke more material down the students, but it is mostly a waste of time! This is a great frustration on teachers' part, for we would rather be engaged in meaningful teaching- even if it is for the test. Only a small fraction of students care about their averages by this time. Students "blow off" the semester tests we are required by our district to give, and again teachers' time is wasted. Also considering the fact that we can't do anything with test results at that late date, why not just have them late in May? At best, a later test date would give schools less time to have to baby-sit, entertain and try to maintain discipline.

Even students themselves wonder why they have to come to school after the tests are over. It's hard to give a convincing answer!

Thank you for all you do, Martha


Recommendations:

Given current constraints and retesting schedules, it appears that the current testing schedule is the only viable alternative.

While we understand the desire of many teachers to have more time to prepare students for the curriculum driven TAKS tests, the sub-committee also recognizes that districts must provide make-up test sessions and must also have reasonable time to provide remediation for many students. It appears that the amount of time to accomplish those tasks has been taken into consideration under the current schedule and should be taken into consideration in any future schedule. The committee is hopeful that survey results may provide some viable suggestions for the study, as we are not prepared to suggest alternate dates for the TAKS tests. We do encourage that consideration continue to be given to the time needed for make-up and remediation. Also, we hope that any new schedule would provide adequate time for districts to analyze results so that their instructional programs might be modified, if needed, to increase performance and learning.