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Trinity Standard - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

 

TISD board unhappy with new test
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – An overview of the new statewide academic testing program to be launched next year brought crises of dismay from members of the Trinity School Board Monday night. The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Test is set to replace the current Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test starting in the 2011-2012 school year and members of the school board were given their first detailed look at the plan. School trustees were highly critical of the proposed test, which will increase the requirements for graduation. Board member Dorothy Franklin called it a “one size fits all plan” and Steve Tyler predicted it would “greatly increase” the dropout rate among non-college bound students. Tyler noted that because STAAR appears to be geared almost exclusively to prepare students for college, those that do not have the ability or the desire to move in that direction would be left behind by the test. “Basically, its telling a bunch of kids that they’re not going to be able to graduate so why should they bother to come to school,” Tyler said. And because the new test will key on math and English skills as qualifications for graduating, Tyler said it also would create a number of other problems. “Your saying that under this new test, if we had a kid who came up with the next theory of relativity, but because he couldn’t write an essay, he still wouldn’t be allowed to graduate,” he said. Under the program, all students from 3rd grade through the 9th grades would begin taking the new test next year. Students who will be in the 10th grade next year will continue to be tested using the old TAKS system until they graduate. Under STAAR, there will be and “End of Course” (EOC) exam given at the end of each key subject area, including each level of English, writing, science, math and social studies. Curriculum Director Rowan Ljungdahl noted that while the TAKS exam tested students on a broad basis, the new STAAR exam will be more narrowly focused but would test students for a deeper understanding of the subject. The new test is being mandated by the state legislature and will account for 15 percent of a student’s final score toward graduation. However, minimum scores on the EOC will be required in order to meet the state’s new requirements before a high school diploma can be awarded. Ljungdahl explained that to meet the minimum scores, an average would be taken from the test scores from the various EOC tests. “For example, lets say the minimum score to pass the English requirement is 1,000. If a student scored 900 on the English I EOC test and 1,000 on the English II EOC, he would need to score 1,100 on the English III test in order to meet the minimum standard,” she explained. Those that do not meet the minimum requirements on each EOC will be required to take the test again, she noted. School officials noted that under the plan, the 2011-2012 school year would be used to test the new program and to establish baselines for minimum scores. Test scores during the coming year will not be used in the annual state rating system for each district and campus. “Basically, the ratings we earn this year will carry over for the next year,” Superintendent Dave Plymale said. “The new STAAR test scores would not be used until the 2012-2013 school year. The first statewide academic testing program was launched in 1980 and was known as the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS), which was followed in 1986 by the Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills (TEAMS). In 1990, TEAMS was replaced by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) test, which was in turn replaced, by the TAKS test in 2003.

 

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