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Texas Schools Show Some Important Gains On Taks

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Summary: Texas Schools have the results for this year's Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), and they're pretty good. With a few exceptions most grade levels showed an increase in the number of Texas Schools' students passing the exams. The test is given each year to all Texan Schools' children in grades 3 to 12. Passing the test is a requirement for promotion for several grades. The passing scores on the tests as a whole are enough to make Texas Schools proud: 89% of f...

Texas Schools have the results for this year's Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), and they're pretty good. With a few exceptions most grade levels showed an increase in the number of Texas Schools' students passing the exams. The test is given each year to all Texan Schools' children in grades 3 to 12. Passing the test is a requirement for promotion for several grades. The passing scores on the tests as a whole are enough to make Texas Schools proud: 89% of fifth grade students passed the reading exam, 85% passed in math, and 77% passed in science. There was also a seven-point increase in the number of Texas Schools' fifth graders who earned the Commendation Performance by answering at least 37 of the 40 questions correctly. This is neither the most encouraging news, nor the only side of the story. Texas Schools are most pleased by the improvement of the seventh grade class. This grade has been the group under the most pressure from the state. It started when they were the first grade level required to pass the TAKS for promotion to fourth grade. And it will continue to be scrutinized this year as Texas Schools and state law require passing TAKS scores for promotion to ninth grade. To help this high-pressured, in-the-spotlight group of students, Texas Schools provided their elementary teachers with training in scientifically based reading practices. Their progress has been monitored, and Texas Schools have devoted state funds to provide additional support like tutoring throughout their education. The good news is- it's working. Seventh graders improved in all areas of testing and reported passing test scores of 85% in reading, 76% in math, and 93% in writing. Clearly there are still many of Texas Schools' children who aren't where they need to be, but the evidence that current practices are improving things is good news. The question for Texas Schools now is: who still needs help and how do they get it? The "who" question is sadly apparent. The infamous educational gap that concerns educators around the nation is also apparent in Texas Schools. While 84% of Texas seniors are on track for graduation, the numbers shift when broken down by race. Texas Schools report passing percentages of 93% for Asian-American students, 92% for white students, 76% for Hispanic students and 72% for African-American students. Overall, Texas Schools show a 3-point drop in the passing rate that is thought to be due to increased standards. Texas Schools provide 5 opportunities for students to pass tests required for graduation in the junior and senior years. The 2006-2007 school year marked the first class to meet the new standards. Overall, the improvements of seventh graders bode well for the Texas schools. But issues like the achievement gap make it all too clear that significant work still needs to be done.
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