Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills

Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a standardized test used in Texas primary and secondary schools to assess students' attainment of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/taks/booklets/index.html|title=TAKS Information Booklets|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2008-04-08|accessdate=2008-08-11] . It is developed and scored by Pearson Educational Measurement with close supervision by the Texas Education Agency. Though created before the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, it complies with the law. It replaced the previous test, called the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills or TAAS, in 2003 [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/taks/index.html|title=TAKS Implementation|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2003-09-18|accessdate=2008-08-11] .

Those students being home-schooled or attending private schools are not required to take the TAKS test [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/faq/FAQ.pdf|title=Frequently Asked Questions|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2003-09-18|accessdate=2008-04-02] . facts|date=July 2008

Test Development

The Texas Education Agency, Pearson, and Texas educators collaborate to make TAKS. First, teachers reviewed the [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/index.html Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills] (state-mandated curriculum) to determine the objectives to assess on each grade level. Then educators determined how the objectives could be best assessed and developed guidelines outlining eligible test content and test-item formats. TEA created a test blueprint. Each year Pearson develops test items based on the objectives and guidelines, and the TEA reviews those items. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/develop/recform.pdf Teacher committees] are brought to Austin to review the proposed test items, and finally the items are field-tested on Texas students. Using the input of the teacher committee and the results of field-testing, TEA and Pearson build the TAKS. A [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/develop/testdev05.pdf more detailed explanation] is available from the Student Assessment Division of TEA. [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/index.html|title=Student Assessment Division|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2007-10-02|accessdate=2007-10-02]

Test Structure

The tested subjects vary depending on grade level; however, reading and math are always part of the exam.

The ELA (10th-11th grade) raw score is calculated as shown in this chart.

The raw score for the 4th grade writing test is calculated as shown.

Then, the raw score is converted to a scaled score. As with the other tests, a scaled score of 2100 meets the standard and 2400 is a commended performance. In 2007, the 11th grade "met standard" level was a raw score of 42, 10th was 44, and 9th was 28. 7th "met standard" with 26 points and 4th with 20. [cite web | url = http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/scoring/pstandards/perfst07.pdf | forrmat = pdf | title = Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, Spring 2007 Performance Standards | date = Spring 2007 | accessdate = 2007-08-28 ] However, the points needed to meet the standard may change slightly from year to year depending on the test's level of difficulty, so all students should do their best and not aim for a particular numeric score.

Graduation Requirements

Texas high school seniors cannot graduate unless they pass exit-level TAKS tests in English language arts, social studies, math, and science. During their junior and senior years of high school, students are given five chances to pass the test. [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/grad/|title=Texas High School Graduation Requirements|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2003-12-16|accessdate=2007-10-02]

Students new to Texas public education who enroll after January 1 of the school year in which they are otherwise eligible to graduate may use scores from the SAT or ACT to replace the ELA and Math TAKS. However, students are still required to pass the exit level science and social studies TAKS test as as well as satisfy all coursework requirements in order to be eligible to receive a Texas high school diploma. [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/faq/alt_exit_assess.pdf |title=Alternative Assessments for Exit Level TAKS|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2006-04-02|accessdate=2008-07-24]

Alternate Assessments

In 2007, the TEA introduced TAKS (Accommodated), TAKS-M, and TAKS-Alt to assess students receiving special education services. Determination of the appropriate assessment is made by the ARD committee based on each individual student's instructional supports and current level of functioning. A brief description of each assessment can be found on page 19 of the ARD manual. [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/admin/2007_2008_ARD_Manual_tagged.pdf|title=Revised ARD Committee Decision Making Process for the Texas Assessment Program|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2007-2008|accessdate=2008-05-05] TAKS (Accommodated) has fewer items per page, larger font size, and no field-test items, but still possesses the same content as standard TAKS. TAKS-M (modified) is adjusted to have a larger font size, fewer items per page, reduced number of answer choices, and embedded questions depending upon the subject being assessed. While the TAKS-M items use simplified wording, content is still assessed on grade level. [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/taksm/TAKSM08_InfoBroch.pdf/|title=TAKS-M Informational Brochure|last= |first=|work=Texas Education Agency|date=2008|accessdate=2008-05-05] Only 2% of students per district will be permissibly scored as "Proficient" using the TAKS-M. TAKS-Alt (alternative) has a 1% permissibility ceiling and is for students facing significant cognitive disabilities.

(Current as of March 2008)

Controversies and Changes

Former State Board of Education candidate Mark Loewe (Ph. D. Physics, B. S. Physics, B. S. Chemistry) identified scoring mistakes made on questions of the Spring 2003 TAKS Mathematics and Science tests; [cite web|url=http://www.markloewe.org/TAKS_scoring_mistakes.html|last=Loewe|first=Mark|title=(untitled, "failure to correct scoring mistakes")|accessdate=2007-06-25] two of the science questions were discussed in "The New York Times". [citation|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A00E7DB133EF937A15757C0A9639C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print|title=None Of the Above|newspaper=The New York Times|last=Guernsey|first=Lisa|date=2005-04-24|accessdate=2007-06-25] Incorrect scores were issued to more than 400,000 students. According to Loewe, the Texas Education Agency issued false statements about several of the mistakes [cite web|url=http://www.markloewe.org/Q11_Spring03_G11_Sci.html|last=Loewe|first=Mark|title=(untitled, "Question 11, Spring 2003, Grade 11, TAKS Science test")|accessdate=2007-06-29 cite web|url=http://www.markloewe.org/Q45_Spring03_G11_Sci.html|last=Loewe|first=Mark|title=(untitled, "Question 45, Spring 2003, Grade 11, TAKS Science test")|accessdate=2007-06-29 cite web|url=http://www.markloewe.org/Q50_Spring03_G10_Sci.html|last=Loewe|first=Mark|title=(untitled, "Question 50, Spring 2003, Grade 10, TAKS Science test")|accessdate=2007-06-29 cite web|url=http://www.markloewe.org/Q8_Spring03_G10_Math.html|last=Loewe|first=Mark|title=(untitled, "Question 8, Spring 2003, Grade 10, TAKS Mathematics test")|accessdate=2007-06-29 cite web|url=http://www.markloewe.org/Q13_Spring03_G5_Sci.html|last=Loewe|first=Mark|title=(untitled, "Question 13, Spring 2003, Grade 5, TAKS Science test")|accessdate=2007-06-29] and failed to correct any of the mistakes.Fact|date=September 2007

Also controversial is the mathematics section of the exit level test. This section of the test covers Algebra I, Geometry, and minimal use of basic skills, such as graphs, charts, and grids. The controversy lies in the fact that many students who take higher levels of mathematics seem to fail this test because it does not test their higher-level skills, instead testing skills that they have not recently studied. However, many in the educational community praise the test not for testing higher-level skills but for its assessment of critical thinking based on lower-level skills. Arguably this normalizes the testing field, allowing all students of all mathematical backgrounds to be scored on their knowledge and skills.Fact|date=September 2007

The TAKS test's grading standards have come under fire, as some deem them to be too easy. [citation|url=http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/10/04/1004tests.html|title=Study Questions Difficulty of TAKS|newspaper=The Austin American-Statesman|last=Embry|first=Jason|date=2007-10-04|accessdate=2007-10-05] In addition, hundreds of schools throughout Texas have been investigated and audited by the Texas Education Association due to suspicious scoring discrepancies. [citation| url=http://www.kilgorenewsherald.com/news/2006/0611/News/047.html |title=Analysis suggests TAKS irregularities in Texas|newspaper=Kilgore News Herald|last=Castro|first=April|date=2006-06-11] Also, there is the issue with teachers teaching to the TAKS test, instead of the standard Texas curriculum.

In order to reduce the burden of field testing, Texas' [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/members.html State Board of Education] has not released to the public those questions used to determine student scores on the Spring 2005 or Spring 2007 TAKS tests. Regrettably, this prevents public review of the questions and answers (for appropriateness and correctness) and denies opportunities for students, teachers, and others to learn from the tests. However, university-level experts in each of the fields review each high school-level test for accuracy. Grade-level teachers also review test items for appropriateness prior to field testing and review the field test results in order to select the best questions for inclusion in the test item bank.

Recently, there has been some discussion of allowing those 10th graders who achieve "commended" status on the TAKS exam to be exempt from the test during their 11th grade yearfacts|date=July 2008.

Transition to End of Course Exams

With Senate Bill 1031 in spring 2007, Texas legislators repealed TAKS in favor of End of Course exams in high school; however, this change will happen gradually. Students who enter ninth grade in the 2011-2012 school year will have to take end-of-course exams in core subjects. Students who entered ninth grade before 2011 will still have to pass the exit-level TAKS to graduate. A calendar which shows the field test and implementation schedule has been developed. [cite news|url=http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/admin/eoc/index.html|title= "END-OF-COURSE ASSESSMENTS:Implementation" |last=Texas Education Agency|first=|work=Assessment Division|date=2007-10-22|accessdate=2007-10-22]

According to the Texas Federation of Teachers, the EOC will require students taking either the Recommended or Advanced curriculum to take three end-of-course exams in each of four core subjects:English I, English II, English III;Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry;Biology, Chemistry, Physics;World Geography, World History, U.S. History [cite news|url=http://www.unionvoice.org/tft/notice-description.tcl?newsletter_id=6814012|title= "SB 1031: Not Just "Getting Rid of TAKS" |last=TFT |first=|work=Legislative Hotline|date=2007-06-04|accessdate=2007-10-04] :)



Texas Education Agency. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/index.html Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills] (State Mandatated Curriculum). Last updated 29 March 2007.

Texas Education Agency. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/release/taks/index.html Released TAKS tests] Last updated August 2006.

Texas Education Agency. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/guides/study/index.html TAKS Study Guides.] Last updated March 2005.

Texas Education Agency. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/admin/calendar/2007_2008_revised_07_26_07.pdf 2007-2008 Testing Calendar.]

Pearson. [https://k12testing.tx.ncspearson.com/taksoos/ Register for TAKS] (only for students not enrolled in school).

Tips4Taks. [http://www.tips4taks.com/ Helpful resources for TAKS] (Online Practice).

Texas Education Agency. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/taksm/index.html TAKS-M] . August 2007.

Texas Education Agency. [http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/taksalt/index.html TAKS-Alt] . August 2007.

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