A preliminary run of the state’s new end-of-course exams shows that student performance is not where we would want it to be yet.
Of the nearly 102,000 students who took the Algebra I test in May, for example, just 57 percent met the passing standard on the 50-question exam. Only 12 percent achieved “commended performance” for correctly answering most of the items.
Results were similar on the six other end-of-course tests administered in hundreds of school districts across the state. Some that were required to give the exams so the state could gauge the early performance, while others voluntarily tested their students to get a leg up on the new requirement.
Teacher groups said the scores are another indication that the state is putting too much emphasis on high-stakes testing.
“We are certainly concerned about the impact on students and those who are now on the bubble as far as graduation,” said Richard Kouri of the Texas State Teachers Association.
But one of the lawmakers who led the push to convert to end-of-course tests said the scores aren’t a concern, pointing out the new tests are more rigorous than the single high school graduation test students have been taking for several years.
“The initial results are not a shock,” said state Rep. Rob Eissler, chairman of the House education committee. “We’re trying to raise the level of performance in each of those subjects, and we first have to find out where everybody is.”
Martha wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, so go see what she has to say for some background. The good thing about these tests is that they’re administered like final exams, at the end of the year in which the student took the course. That differs from the current TAKS graduation test, which may cover material from two or three years earlier for a given student. But there’s a lot more of these tests now, and while the increased rigor is a very worthy goal, the combination of more high stakes tests with a higher bar to clear is likely to exacerbate Texas’ already problematic dropout rate. It’s one thing to ask more of students and teachers, it’s another to provide them with the resources they need to achieve what you demand of them. What are the odds that will be an end result of this legislative session? I hope we’re prepared for the fallout of this, but I’m pretty sure we’re not.