The 2012-2013 is the second year of implementation for the STAAR end-of-course exams, previously complained-about on this site here.
For those of you who are not teaching in the once proud nation of Texas(1), you may not know about our testapalooza for our high schoolers, but here was the original plan in its inception:
- All high schoolers planning to graduate on non-minimum graduation plans would need to pass six exams for English (I, II, III for Reading and Writing), and three exams for Social Studies (World Geography, World History, US History), Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), and Mathematics (Algebra I and II, Geometry).
- Your EOC score was to account for 15% of your final average(2).
- The passing standard was unknown.
- Last year, TEA released 15 sample questions for each of the tests to be administered.
- Students must pass all 15 of these tests to graduate. Failure to do so means that students will take and re-take the failed tests until they have passed them, regardless of performance in the actual class(3).
- 9th graders took only Mathematics and Reading tests which were not graduation requirements.
- 10th graders took English (Writing and Reading), Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The tests could cover anything as far back as 8th grade or up to current-year standards. These, too, were not required for student graduation. However, the 10th grade results are used to measure Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and determine campus rankings as either Exemplary, Recognized, Academically Acceptable, or Academically Unacceptable. This made for an annual stressfest in which teachers and administrators would try any number of motivators to get kids to care about this tests as much as we did and would also provide pull-out services during elective courses to capture the “bubble kids” who in previous years tested close to passing.
- 11th grade was the exit level year. Students would need to pass the usual four (English, Social Studies, Math, and Science) in order to graduate. This year’s class of juniors is the last class to fall under this plan.
(1) A fact our proud would-be secessionists will point out to you whenever they get the opportunity. It’s true, Texas was a sovereign nation for 9 years, but we were basically in escrow to be annexed into the United States for the purpose of expanding slave territory. EVERYTHING’S BIGGER IN TEXAS, Y’ALL.
(2) AKA the one that appears on your GPA; AKA the one that really counts.
(3) The exceptions to this now as it was with TAKS are students who receive modified instruction or have an alternate curriculum in accordance with their IEP. The state of Texas says that only 2% of a district’s students may receive modifications and 1% receive an alternate curriculum. Anything in excess of this would be counted automatically as failures for the district’s accountability ratings. This does not stop many schools from placing an untoward number of students on modified plans so they can escape the rigors and requirements of the regular tests. And thus another poison pill is slipped into the educational system as teachers, parents, and administrators scramble to make the right choice on behalf of the child due to our undying fealty to the Standardized Crown.
(4) I prefer “articulating my grievances.”