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TAAS? and testing........

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From: Bunki Kramer (bkramer_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Oct 08 2000 - 10:27:22 PDT


from: Bunki Kramer (bkramer@srvusd.k12.ca.us)
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Road
Danville, CA 94526
http://ww2.lcms.srvusd.k12.ca.us/faculty/faculty.html
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About a month ago I saw a TV special (don't remember the name of the
program...maybe 60 Mins.?) about Texas and TAAS. Hope I'm spelling it right.
It gave the pros and cons about how the teachers were almost being FORCED to
teach to this test but the outcome of the scores was successful. The kids
were even CHANTING everyday to prepare. Each child was being grilled
EVERYDAY by the teacher to know what TAAS meant and how to bubble/answer the
questions (I'm talking LOWER elem.). For those of you living in Texas, what
is your "take"? Is it all-incompassing, pulling kids from your elective
programs, downplaying the arts, affecting your programs? Are the teachers
being told to bring TAAS into their programs and taking over the curriculum
of the core teachers? Do you see this as positive or intrusive? When you
don't make the "grade", how devastating is it? I'm eager to hear what you
have to say.

Here in CA we're starting to be graded by the state's STAR test rankings
(second year with the same test finally). In our district we have no problem
because we're mid. class/upper mid. so we do well on tests without much
problem (except when the students boycott it). We'll get state $$$ just
because of our ranking (we are so high, we are given a meager percentage to
reach). The lower ranking schools who don't make the cutoff will receive no
$$$. They are the ones who NEED it. Teachers and admins. in these schools
will lose their jobs. How can kids who are not as affluent, be asked to
compare with more culturally sophisticated students via a test? Where's the
fairness to teachers who are trying to teach these kids the best they can
but have such an uphill battle...and they will lose their jobs because of
it?

We (CA) have also initiated the high school exit exam this past year. It
will go into total effect, I think, 2004. Kids are already being primed for
it here. Kids will be able to take it anytime during the four years of high
school and must pass it to graduate. Kids are losing interest in taking the
state's STAR test because it's more important to graduate than having a
school assessed...it doesn't take much to figure THAT one out. There's a
strong potential for STAR backlash by the kids because of the new graduating
test pressures. The question on my mind is...where do I fit in (as an art
teacher) in all this? There won't be any questions pertaining to my
subject..I can almost bet. Just how important is this going to make MY
curriculum in the coming years? I'm worried...for myself and my kids. A
large chunk of food for thought. Toodles.........