Heather Sanders

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February 2007



The night before TAKS

Written by , Posted in Everything Else, Kids and Parenting

The night before TAKS

Emelie, as I’ve pointed out before, is as anal retentive as I am. We have a special bond – a beautiful bond wherein we sharpen pencils in unison, dream of an office supply EXTREME game show, organize our notebooks with appropriately spaced dividers and clear tabs (because colored tabs are sooooo yesterday), and carry Post-It Notes in our hip pocket. We are your worst nightmare, and the person you’ll call to plan your wedding, shower, move, party, etc…

Today was her TAKS test. She prepared her activity board with reminders starting 5 days ahead of the test. And? She got up this morning early, showered, and followed through on her directives. Now the board sports the words “TAKS TEST! I made a …. ______.” as she awaits her grade.

A word on the TAKS test. First, shame on the TEA for this ridiculous standardized testing program. And shame on them for their endless and confusing acronyms associated with it. The TAKS test is taken by most Texas public school students in spring of each year during grades 3-11. It is the single most stressful thing Emelie endured last year because in 3rd grade if you don’t pass, you don’t promote. The same applies for one’s junior year of high school.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “So?” But here’s the thing. What if you’re a straight A student and you just truly stink at standardized testing. In fact, what if you had better grades than most everyone in your class, but your senior year you made an 880 on your SAT and did not get into the university of your choice while your “D” level friends did. *ahem* – wait, I’m off subject. Oops.

At any rate, I think it is an inadequate assessment. It gets the teachers primed to pump out TAKS ready students, which means the educational system is now raising up pack mentality followers and test-ready students instead of thinkers and creatives. It means that it reduces our kids to a grade. TAKS evaluates a student’s learning based on the state-required curriculum … and that’s it.

Emelie will likely score high – she usually does. However, whether she scores high or not, it isn’t an assessment of her knowledge and skills. That can be found in her rhetoric, her writing, her application of learned principles to life, her ability to discern the meaning of words in context and use them in language, her summation of a recipe, her grandiose heart that raises her up as a tutor in her class because she can’t stand for another student to get behind.

… oh, and the amazing way she can get a sharp tip on a pencil with our dulled out sharpener in the garage. She can totally beat me at that one, but then I did make an 880 on my SAT.

Heather Sanders


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