High-stakes testing

United States
January 2, 2007 3:16pm CST
Here in Texas, every spring brings the dreaded TAKS test. They begin in the 3rd grade with reading and math. Students in 3rd grade who do not pass the reading test are required to take it a second and even a third time, and can be retained if they do not pass it. Every year after 3rd grade, students are tested in reading and math, with writing added in 4th grade, science in 5th grade, writing again in 7th grade, science and social studies in 8th grade, writing again in 9th grade, and ALL subjects tested in 10th and 11th grade. Students who do not pass all of their tests by the end of 12th grade do not graduate from high school. While I am all for accountability, I wonder if the testing trend has gotten out of hand? It seems to me that all this generation of students is learning to do is take tests. And keep in mind that I am a public school teacher, married to another, and I have two children in the public schools. So, does anyone else agree? Are the children being over-tested? What do other states and countries do?
2 people like this
4 responses
• United States
13 Jan 07
Here in Washington, the dreaded test is called the WASL. Students in grades 3-10 (except 9th) have to take the Reading and Math WASLS each year. Writing is administered in the 4th, 7th, and 10th grades, while Science is given in 5th, 8th, and 10th grades. Starting with the class of 2008, all sophomores have to pass the Reading, Writing, and Math sections of the WASL in order to graduate. As a member of the class of 2008, I'll admit: I hate the WASL with a fiery passion. When our test results came earlier this year, less than half of all the sophomores in the state passed all three tests. Here at our school, those that failed one or more of the WASL tests had to take a required, full-year class dedicated to learning how to take the WASL, on top of a summer WASL course. Forcing the WASL (or any other standardized test for that matter) down our throats won't necessarily prepare us for the rigors of the 21st century, as many educators claim. Think of all the valuable skills we could learn (foreign languages, technology, etc.) during the time schools spend on teaching us how to take the WASL. And it doesn't stop there. Nor only has our state superintendent continued to believe that every member of the class of 2008 will pass the WASL in time for graduation, she had decided to administer more WASL tests. Starting in 2009, the Social Studies, Health/Fitness, and Art WASLs will be phased in. What, exactly, would a question on the art WASL look like?" Maybe something like this: "Draw a 2-point perspective portait, using crosshatching and gradient elements." And I thought art was subjective :( After all is said and done, there will be 6 WASL tests for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to cringe about. Isn't it time for politicians and education experts to realize that school isn't all about test-taking skills? I want to learn something that is interesting and would help me in the future, rather than learning about how much Bill and Dana would earn if they each mowed a fraction of the lawn. It's time for a change. Question is, when? ~Student, 11th Grade, WA State
• United States
13 Jan 07
You're right, Sumoman, art is subjective. My daughter is a 10th grader and she is in Art 3...I always wonder how her teacher manages to grade projects. As for the WASL, it sounds like it is even worse than the TAKS. I think it's a crime that students are being forced to give up things like foreign language in order to learn test-taking strategies. I keep hoping that the morons who designed these tests will wake up, but I have been disappointed so far.
2 people like this
• United States
14 Jan 07
I've taken Drawing and Painting 1 and 2 and Cartooning, and hope to take AP Studio Art next year... and I also still don't quite get the system either :D Kind of a side note, I think the general public bought into all of this NCLB, "standardized testing is the future" mumbo jumbo when they re-elected our superintendent (and creator of the WASL) in 2004. Her platform: make more WASL tests to prepare us for the future... :( Disgusting!
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Jan 07
here in Louisiana it's called the LEAP test. The schedule is the same as you posted, and I think it's ridiculous. Kids are failing more and *less* literate than when I was in school, and all we took was the Stanford Achievement test and the high school exit exam. The more tests, the earlier kids start school, the more we push them, it's the same thing. The smart kids are excelling and the average and struggling students are just falling further behind.
• United States
2 Jan 07
I agree with you about everything. :-) I have had several students come to my school from Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina...they were horrified at the length and rigor of the TAKS tests. Not to say that the LEAP isn't hard, but the rules for administering TAKS blew them away last year (no talking, no sleeping when you're done, no leaving the room without an escort, only one student can leave the room at a time, can't discuss the test during breaks or lunch, lunch is eaten in the testing room...I could go on and on.)
1 person likes this
@davis123 (507)
• United States
24 Feb 07
yes i think yes the children are being over tested i like that they have the taks test but they should change the rules so that they only be tested in 3,6,9 grades and yes u are write about all they do is take test
1 person likes this
@bigedshult1 (1613)
• United States
24 Feb 07
I don't thnk so if the scool had did that when i went to school I may have learen how to read and spell