Sunday, March 09, 2003 - Schools Report Card: Time's up for TAAS

"That's pretty much the hallmark of a successful system, that you outgrow your test and you outgrow your system and you have to evolve to a more rigorous system and a system with more breadth," said Criss Cloudt, the Texas Education Agency's associate commissioner for policy planning and re- search.

Supporters say the TAAS has forced schools to teach students what they must know, at least minimally.

Critics, though, say the test has severely narrowed the scope of what children are learning, forcing teachers essentially to prepare students for a very limited test.

This year's high school TAKS, officials said, will be different, testing in more subjects, more grades and at a higher academic level.

TAAS had forced classrooms to be drill instruction centers for the marginal students - which has its good and bad points. A better system would be to place students who know the basic knowledge in more advanced classes - a controversial approach but one I support. Right now you are teaching to the slowest students and better students are not challenged and bored as well as not learning as much as they should. TAKS might be part of a first step, if schools and educators were scored on how well all children learned as well as what percentage meets minimal standards.

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