VISD TAKS scores improve
July 13, 2012 at 2:13 a.m.
Updated July 14, 2012 at 2:14 a.m.
• Students must pass the English, math, science and social studies exit-level TAKS tests in order to graduate
• They take the tests for the first time during the spring of their junior year
• If a student did not pass one or more tests, he or she can retake the test multiple times throughout the year
• The Texas Education Agency requires schools to offer extra help to students who do not pass the TAKS.
Last year's sophomores and juniors in the Victoria school district improved their scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, according to preliminary results.
Juniors in Victoria East and West high schools and Liberty Academy showed gains in English language arts, math, science and social studies compared to scores from their sophomore test in 2011. Last year's sophomores also mostly improved their reading and math scores, which are the two tests they took as freshmen.
Only last school year's sophomores and juniors took the TAKS test, while the state phased in its new assessment, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness.
The transition proved most challenging in high school classrooms, said Susanne Carroll, executive director of curriculum, instruction and accountability for the Victoria school district. Ninth- and 10th-graders, for example, could be taking the same course but be subject to different state assessments on the material.
Most of the district's scores are slightly below the state average, but they reveal leaps of improvement from one year to the next.
The gains mirror state trends, which show more juniors tend to pass exit-level exams - a requirement for graduation.
Math continues to be the struggling point for juniors, with 81 percent passing at East High School and 85 percent passing at West High School. Seventy-six percent of juniors at Liberty Academy passed, up from 40 percent as sophomores, while an average of 91 percent of students across the state passed the exit-level math test.
Sophomores also struggled in math, with 52 percent of East students and 67 percent of West students passing.
Meanwhile, the biggest gains came in science. East and West schools went from about 60 percent of sophomores passing in 2011 to more than 90 percent passing their junior year. Liberty Academy students jumped from 67 percent of students passing science as sophomores to 90 percent passing as juniors. The state average passing rate was 94 percent.
Last year's freshmen classes are the first that will need to pass 12 to 15 end-of-course exams, considered quite a bit more difficult than TAKS tests, in order to graduate.
"We should be teaching all of our students to the depth and rigor that prepares our students for college and career readiness," Carroll said. "But there is some individualization that has to be done as far as helping students when it comes to ... actually take their test."
Teachers prepared mixed classrooms with both TAKS and STAAR sample questions. Carroll said students taking the TAKS likely benefited from learning how to solve the higher-level questions on the STAAR.
"In TAKS, they may have a question that might have two steps or two parts to it. But in the STAAR test ... they might have to go four or five steps to be able to solve a mathematical problem," Carroll said.
Juniors for the 2012-13 year will be the last class to take the TAKS test.