Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills
Overview
 
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a standardized test
Standardized test
A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a...

 used in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 primary
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 and secondary schools
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 to assess students' attainment of reading, writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

, math, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, and social studies
Social studies
Social studies is the "integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence," as defined by the American National Council for the Social Studies...

 skills required under Texas education standards. 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
No Child Left Behind Act
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a United States Act of Congress concerning the education of children in public schools.NCLB was originally proposed by the administration of George W. Bush immediately after he took office...

 was passed, it complies with the law.
Encyclopedia
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a standardized test
Standardized test
A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a...

 used in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 primary
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 and secondary schools
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 to assess students' attainment of reading, writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

, math, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, and social studies
Social studies
Social studies is the "integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence," as defined by the American National Council for the Social Studies...

 skills required under Texas education standards. 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
No Child Left Behind Act
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a United States Act of Congress concerning the education of children in public schools.NCLB was originally proposed by the administration of George W. Bush immediately after he took office...

 was passed, it complies with the law. It replaced the previous test, called the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills
Texas Assessment of Academic Skills
The TAAS, or Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, was a standardized test used in Texas between 1991 and 2002, when it was replaced by the TAKS test from 2003 to 2009. Prior to 1990, the test was known as the Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills or TEAMS . It was used from grades 3...

 or TAAS, in 2003. Prior to 1990, the test was known as the Texas Educational Assessment of Minimum Skills or TEAMS .

Those students being home-schooled
Homeschooling
Homeschooling or homeschool is the education of children at home, typically by parents but sometimes by tutors, rather than in other formal settings of public or private school...

 or attending private schools are not required to take the TAKS test.

Test Development

The Texas Education Agency, Pearson, and Texas educators collaborate to make TAKS. First, teachers reviewed the 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. 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 more detailed explanation is available from the Student Assessment Division of TEA.

Test Structure

The tested subjects vary depending on grade level; however, math is always part of the exam.
ELA (reading and writing combined) Reading Writing Math Science Social Studies
Grade 3 8
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8
Grade 9
Grade 10
Exit Level


Every portion of the exam includes multiple choice questions. The high school reading and English language arts (combined reading and writing) tests also require students to answer three open-ended (short answer) questions: one on the literary selection, one on the expository piece, and one "crossover" synthesizing the two. The writing and ELA tests include a written composition as well. The 9th-11th grade reading test permits the use of a dictionary and/or thesaurus, and the high school math and science tests allow the use of calculators along with formula charts. Currently, the TAKS is not timed.

TEA provides TAKS Information Booklets containing details, student expectations, rubrics, and sample test items.

Some released tests are also available online.

Scoring

The science, social studies, math, and reading tests (before grade 9) consist of multiple-choice questions scored by computer. On each test, a scaled score of 2100 is required to pass and 2400 is required to earn "commended" status. Performance standards showing the raw scores are available online.

The essay and short answer portions found in grade 4, 7, 9, 10, and 11 are scored by graders in Dallas, Austin, and Albuquerque. The graders are not all teachers, but Pearson requires its graders to have a bachelor's degree and prefers experience in education.

The written composition is graded on a scale of 0–4. Students must earn a score of 2 or better on their written composition in order to meet the standard in writing or ELA.
0 1 2 3 4
off topic ineffective somewhat effective effective highly effective


The open-ended items (short answer) are graded on a scale of 0–3.
0 1 2 3
insufficient partially sufficient sufficient exemplary


The ELA (10th–11th grade) raw score is calculated as shown in this chart.
Item value No. of items Points per section Total
Multiple choice 1 48 48
Open-ended 3 3 9
Written Composition 16 1 16
73


The 9th grade reading test raw score is calculated as shown in this chart.
Item value No. of items Points per section Total
Multiple Choice 1 33 33
Open Ended 3 3 9
42


The raw score for the 7th grade writing test is calculated as shown.
Item value No. of items Points per section Total
Multiple Choice 1 40 40
Written Composition 4 1 4
44


The raw score for the 4th grade writing test is calculated as shown.
Item value No. of items Points per section Total
Multiple Choice 1 28 28
Written Composition 4 1 4
32


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. 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.

The TAKS reading/ELA scale is linked with the Lexile
Lexile
The Lexile Framework for Reading is an educational tool that uses a measure called a Lexile to match readers of all ages with books, articles and other leveled reading resources....

 Framework for Reading. Thus, Lexile measures are reported out for students in grades 3–11. A Lexile measure can be used to match readers with targeted text and monitor growth in reading ability.

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.

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 well as satisfy all coursework requirements in order to be eligible to receive a Texas high school diploma.

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. 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. 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 identified scoring mistakes made on questions of the Spring 2003 TAKS Mathematics and Science tests; two of the science questions were discussed in The New York Times.  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 and failed to correct any of the mistakes.

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.

The TAKS test's grading standards have come under fire, as some deem them to be too easy. In addition, hundreds of schools throughout Texas have been investigated and audited by the Texas Education Association due to suspicious scoring discrepancies. 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, the Texas 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.

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.

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
UPDATE: STAAR to replace TAKS in 2011/2012.
The STAAR name, pronounced the same as star, will be used for the 12 end-of-course assessments mandated by SB 1031 in 2007 and the new grade 3-8 assessments mandated by HB 3 in the 2009 legislative session.
The new tests will be used beginning in the 2011-2012 school year. Students in the graduating Class of 2015 will be the first students who must meet the end-of-course testing requirements, as well as pass their classes, in order to earn a diploma.

The new tests will be significantly more rigorous than previous tests and will measure a child’s performance, as well as academic growth.

The grade 3-8 STAAR tests in reading and mathematics, by law, must be linked from grade to grade to performance expectations for the English III and Algebra II end-of-course assessments.

During a speech at the Texas Association of School Administrators’ Midwinter Conference in Austin, Scott also said the last TAKS-based school accountability ratings will be issued in 2011. Ratings will be suspended in 2012 while a new accountability system is developed.
The new state rating system will debut in 2013.

Links

Texas Education Agency. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills(State Mandatated Curriculum). Last updated 29 March 2007.

Texas Education Agency. Released TAKS tests Last updated August 2006.

Texas Education Agency. TAKS Study Guides. Last updated March 2005.

Texas Education Agency. 2007-2008 Testing Calendar.

Pearson. Register for TAKS (only for students not enrolled in school).

Tips4Taks. Helpful resources for TAKS (Online Practice).

Texas Education Agency. TAKS-M. August 2007.

Texas Education Agency. TAKS-Alt. August 2007.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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