Accross the state of Texas today a collective sigh of relief goes up from students, teachers, and administrators alike as the Language portion of the TAKS is done and gone, at least until next year. I will now resign myself to eagerly awaiting the results with the rest of the school–I think we really did well this year, and since we were identified as a “low performing” school last year (which is a total rip-off, mis-label, insult, and just plain wrong) we have reason to be eager. I know that at least on my little pet portion of the test–short answer composition–we (students and teachers) really practiced our hearts out.
All of that being said, and my eagerness to see how we did aside, I strongly dislike what the TAKS test has done to the culture of our school and our state. I strongly dislike the pressure applied to teachers, students, and administrators to convert intelligent thought (abstract) into the appropriate statistic (concrete). I disapprove of the labeling that goes along with TAKS–labeling of students as well as labeling of schools and districts. As if a statistic can capture the validity of a human being, or an institution. If we must have a standardized test, why not something more useful–why not require all high school students to take the SAT (a college admission test) so if we are pressured to teach to a test, at least it will be one that can benefit their collective future? Not to mention the fact that it would be cheaper, since Texas wouldn’t have to fork out the money to develop or score it. And combined with the battery of SAT2 tests, it covers all of the subject areas the TAKS does, including writing.
For the moment, however, it appears that the TAKS is here to stay. So to those who sacrificed a day (or more) to its commanding and intrusive presence, I salute you. May your magical numbers be adequate to appease the almighty test gods at the Texas Education Agency who grades them.