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TAKS: High Stakes Testing

This week starts the high stakes, or exit level, testing for Texas high school juniors.
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For some, this week is the beginning of their struggle to graduate. For many students who are barely making it through their classes, TAKS is an obstacle that must be overcome. It is their mountain to climb so to speak. Some students hope to just pass one or two subjects this spring, and try for the others in the summer or next fall. This is one way of taking off some of the pressure. Others have been attending special tutorials for months in hopes of passing on the first time.

For some seniors, this testing session is their last chance to pass and walk the stage at graduation with their class. For other students, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills is just what it was meant to be: a test of whether they learned the basic skills they should have during high school.  For many teachers, this is the culmination of an entire year of teaching, drilling, entertaining, and anything else they can think of to get the attention of their students. For everyone, it  is a long, stressful week with a lot of extra security in the testing rooms and a disrupted  schedule at school.

Parents, here are some tips for you if your child is testing this week:

  • Do make sure they eat a healthy supper, go to bed at a decent time, and eat a good breakfast before they go to school.
  • Do talk to your child about turning in their phones, ipods, DS, and all other electronic equipment in their testing room.
  • Do ask to see any review materials and quiz your student about the upcoming tests.
  • Do plan on some kind of physical activity after a day of testing. It is hard to sit still in a desk that long!
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  • Don’t add to your child’s stress by making them study long hours–we have done that for months at school!
  • And don’t set up appointments that require you take your student out of school early during testing, they don’t need the pressure to finish early and their classmates don’t need the disruption of someone coming to get your child.

This post isn’t about whether the testing is right or wrong, or whether the test itself–on its way out possibly–really does test all the knowledge and skills students need to have.  TAKS is what exists at this moment, and it is what our students will be taking.  The testing going on this week  is stressful for those testing, monitoring, and administering the tests. So if you know any students or teachers who are testing this week, take a moment to wish them luck and hope for the best.


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