Problems with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Test

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The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, otherwise known as the TAKS, is a standardized test used throughout the state of Texas to determine whether or not a student is prepared for the next grade level. The TAKS test was implemented in 2003 to replace the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills in concurrence with the “No Child Left Behind Act”. The new test added science and social studies portions to the already existing sections of math, reading, and English. The purpose of this was to obtain more information on where students are academically. However, since its inception, the test has been criticized for numerous reasons. The TAKS test has become ineffective in several capacities and has been used to determine teacher bonuses and assessment of how well a teacher is communicating, evaluations that it was not originally intended to decide. When taking into account all of these points of view, I have come to the conclusion that the TAKS test should no longer be used in its present function.

One of the difficulties that arises with the TAKS test is the pass or fail system. Starting in third grade, a student must pass the TAKS to move on to the next grade level. This means that an incredible amount of stress is placed on each student starting at the young age of eight. Also, a senior must pass the test before he or she will receive a diploma or be allowed to walk the stage at the graduation ceremonies. It may seem like these are perfectly reasonable standards for students to achieve; however, for advanced students, the TAKS tests them over material that they have not studied in years. For some children, the test places high amounts of anxiety and stress on them. Katy McElhaney, a science teacher at Waco’s Brazos Middle School,...

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...wledge which can be detrimental to the students who have surpassed these standards. The test does not encourage students to increase their knowledge, but only to meet requirements. Teachers should be able to tell if a student is ready to pass on to the next grade level without a standardized test based solely on each student’s grades, work, and intelligence as revealed in the classroom.

As it is presently, the TAKS test does an ineffective job at measuring where students are at academically, as well as encourages teachers to teach at unproductive level in the classroom. The TAKS test either needs to be revised or be thrown out all together if Texans hope to increase educational performance and their assessment of it. A test should not test to the “lowest” student and thus discourage learning on a deeper level but should reward hard work and scholastic achievement.
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