Tag Archives: TAKS

“This is a test – just a test – of the Emergency Broadcast System”

All of us have heard or seen the tests conducted by the emergency broadcast system and had there been an actual emergency when we would have been notified of how we were to proceed. I liken this to the approach of testing in Texas. I was reading the post entitled, “Severe Weather Testing Protocols” from the ‘Fractions Speak Louder than Nerds‘ blog. The district I was recently affiliated with was notorious for going overboard on the preparation of the building for the testing environment going to the extent of covering book cases, all posters – even motivational – as they had words on the posters or book spines and those words may help students with something on the test.

Personally, I don’t see that a poster saying, “Be true to yourself” or the 55 Rules of Ron Clark to be testing aids of any kind but hey, you do what you gotta do. Anything that can be prepared for is covered in the 150 page manual that contains the oath that you sign agreeing not to read the contents or commit any act that you shouldn’t or you will be notified of how to proceed as in the tests conducted by the emergency broadcast system.

The extent the educators go to that are mentioned in this fellow blogger’s post about protecting test booklets and materials is humorous. We laugh because we can relate to having to protect, monitor, count, check out, check in, lock up, pass out, collect, alphabetize and many other things that I didn’t name regarding the handling of the testing materials except looking at the test booklets.

If a student throws up or does the unforgivable thing of bending their answer document or even worse- spilling something on their booklet or answer document – all is lost and you are signing away your life on all kinds of forms to prove something bizarre happened and you weren’t just taking a peek at the content of the test. I know TEA loves to receive answer documents or booklets inside of a sealed ziplock bag with vomit or other unknown bodily fluids acting as an adhesive on the pages in the test booklet. I just hope the ziplock bag with the contaminated test materials was sealed before lunch…especially since it may be several weeks before TEA gets the special delivery of dried vomit on a test answer document. How fun is testing in Texas!?!

“This is a test – just a test – of the Emergency Broadcast System”

All of us have heard or seen the tests conducted by the emergency broadcast system and had there been an actual emergency when we would have been notified of how we were to proceed. I liken this to the approach of testing in Texas. I was reading the post entitled, “Severe Weather Testing Protocols” from the ‘Fractions Speak Louder than Nerds’ blog. The district I was recently affiliated with was notorious for going overboard on the preparation of the building for the testing environment going to the extent of covering book cases, all posters – even motivational – as they had words on the posters or book spines and those words may help students with something on the test.

Personally, I don’t see that a poster saying, “Be true to yourself” or the 55 Rules of Ron Clark to be testing aids of any kind but hey, you do what you gotta do. Trainings and simulations of TAKS assessments are drilled into us to prevent being notified of how to proceed in the event of a testing emergency.

The extent the educators go to that are mentioned in this fellow blogger’s post about protecting test booklets and materials is humorous. We laugh because we can relate to having to protect, monitor, count, check out, check in, lock up, pass out, collect, alphabetize and many other things that I didn’t name regarding the handling of the testing materials except looking at the test booklets.

If a student throws up or does the unforgivable thing of bending their answer document or even worse- spilling something on their booklet or answer document – all is lost and you are signing away your life on all kinds of forms to prove something bizarre happened and you weren’t just taking a peek at the content of the test. Don’t you know TEA just loves to receive answer documents or booklets inside of a sealed ziplock bag with vomit or other unknown bodily fluids dried to the pages of the student’s test booklet. I just hope the incident requiring the ziplock bag with the contaminated test materials was sealed before lunch…especially since it may be several weeks before TEA gets the special delivery of dried vomit on a test answer document. How fun is testing in Texas!?!

What Would You Do?

As I reflect upon this coming week, I am reminded that every third through 10th/11th grader is taking at least one version of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests this week. In Texas, state testing is a huge deal. From the time the kids hit the door in August until this week not a lesson, activity, class period, or conference period goes by without a mention of TAKS preparation or testing. I am going on my 19th year of education in Texas and when I started teaching we administered the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS). Then we administered the TEAMS test. I forgot what the acronym represents. After TEAMS we went to TAAS which is the Texas Assessment of Applied Skills (I think that’s what it stood for.) Now we administer TAKS, and not just TAKS, but TAKS-A, TAKS-M and TAKS-I which all have to do with level of achievement for the students in the special education program.

Don’t forget the bilingual tests: TELPAS and RPTE. Some students also take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. If a students is recommended for the GT program they take additional tests to determine their level of ‘giftedness’. If a student is struggling additional tests are taken to determine if the student qualifies for additional instructional support or modifications. Students in third, fifth and eighth grade must pass the reading and/or math portions of TAKS in order to be promoted to the next grade.

In high school students take the end of course exams. If a students is in the IB programme even more assessments are required. If a student is taking an AP course, additional testing is required by the Advanced Placement Board. To graduate students must pass the exit level of TAKS and take the TASP (don’t know this acronym) test to enter college. Test after test. No wonder we have low graduation rates at the high school level.

When my oldest niece was in the third grade two years she had just taken the first administration of the third grade TAKS reading test. At the third, fifth and eighth grades, students can take up to three administrations to pass the reading or math portions of TAKS. Anyway, she had recently taken the test and received commended status with the comment to me, “Aunt Kim, I am already sick of TAKS testing!” I hated to inform her that she had just crossed the threshold into the world of testing in Texas. It had only just begun. She said we take tons of practice tests in class, have tutoring, and all of our classwork is about getting ready for TAKS and she was tired of ‘…TAKS, TAKS, TAKS!” (her words although I agree with her sentiments.) I embraced her and said, “I know how you feel.” We nodded our heads in agreement and went on with our visit. My niece continues to excel on classwork and TAKS but would really like to learn more about science and more challenging topics that aren’t as strictly confined and taxing as testing for TAKS (how about that alliteration English teachers!).

A friend of mine from SAISD, Greg Rodriguez shared with us through Diigo an article about a teacher in Washington state that refused to administer the state test to his students. Subsequently the teacher was suspended without pay and written up for insubordination that found its way up to the superintendent of the school district. While I concur with his feelings and admire his tenacity to stand strong and firm in his convictions, I am not sure that I would be that strong. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not take things lying down and have been described as a ‘nonconformist’ at times for doing things ‘my way’. As another week of TAKS testing, training, administering approaches, I wonder if I will get to the place of the aforementioned educator and take a stance against administering the TAKS. What would you do? What would it take for you to stand on your convictions and go against the status quo?

There is a fabulous book that I usually read to my students the day before testing to lighten things up. The book titled, Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finch. After I read it to my students, regardless of the grade level, I follow up with a PPT of test taking skills entitled, “Testing Mrs. Caise“, in honor of the book I just read them. Check it if you are ever looking for a humorous way to review test taking skills and take away some of the doldrums of TAKS preparation. And during this week, take a moment and think about Carl Chew in WA and ask yourself the question, “What would you do?”