TAAS shows improvement while students
are doing worse
From: "Donna Garner"
To: "Education Consumers"
Subject: The Real Truth about Texas' TAAS Test
Date sent: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 18:58:45 -0600
What is the real truth from the trenches regarding the TAAS test in Texas?
As the entire state goes down, the test results are simply "graded on the
curve" so that students look as if they have improved. Large numbers of
students never even take the TAAS because of their exempt status, and we
spend all year getting the students ready to take the TAAS. Sad to say, the
TAAS has become our local curriculum; all this "local control" verbage is a
bunch of bunk.
None of the results are released until all the TAAS tests are given and
Then after several months of working on the data, the results are released
through the Texas Education Agency. Guess what? The number of students
whose scores are improving is growing each year. Isn't that wonderful? The
only problem is that if you ask any honest teacher about the skill level of
his students, he will tell you that each year his students know less and
I have given a pre- and post-grammar test for years in my English classes,
and I have tracked the data as we have moved from school district to school
district. My data goes back over 17 years. I have not changed the test at
all so that the data is pretty pure. Of course, I have not been able to
control scientifically the actual students that I have taught; but I have
been able to form a pretty accurate picture over time as to how students
are doing. My usual assignment is to teach average and below-average
English I students. (I also teach Spanish I.)
I give my diagnostic grammar test under the same testing conditions at the
beginning of the year as in the spring. The test takes two days to
administer, and I give it in the fall before we begin the first grammar
packet. Then after the last packet has been taught, I give my students the
same test. It is not too hard to
see that the level of achievement has continually gone down.
In years past, the average across my classes was around 65-68 at the
beginning of the year. The average at the beginning of this year was
50.13. 70 is passing. I have just completed my spring diagnostic testing;
the average score on the spring test is now 65.14. The average percentage
of improvement is 29.84%. Cognitive psychologists say that if a child
increases his knowledge base at least 10% per year, he is doing well.
Therefore, I can tell that my students have improved; and most of them have
indeed worked hard. The problem, however, is that they have so far to go
in a year's time because of their lack of skills at the beginning of the
year. There is a great deal of reading on this test also; therefore, the
test is more than just a test of grammar skills.
By the way, the grammar packets are almost ready on a web site. As soon as
we are satisfied that they are formatted correctly, we will let you know
the actual html address.
EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE