Lawmaker, Students Find Fault with TAKS Test

Nearly two thousand seniors in six Houston area school districts did not graduate with their class because they failed the TAKS test. One state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill in the next session of the Texas Legislature to help remedy the problem. Pat Hernandez has more.
"I think that the system is kinda of messed up because so many kids don't pass."

Jasmine Phillips graduated with honors at Eisenhower High School. She says when time came to take the TEXAS ASSESSMENT OF KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS, or TAKS, she had no idea she would have a problem...not once, or twice, but three times.

"The first time I took the test, all my friends took it so, it wasn't a big deal to me, and when I found out I didn't pass, and all the people around me passed, it like, really hurt me like, brought my spirits down. I was like 'man, all my friends passed, why can't I pass'? So, the second time I took it over the summer. I really didn't study cause, it was just a test, I didn't take it seriously. The second time I took it and I didn't pass and it was like 'WOW, I didn't pass again, I might not really graduate'. It really got me into this mode where I feel like I had to do it, and all the people around me had passed, and it was just like a burden on my shoulders that I carried around every day, not knowing if you were going to able to walk with all your classmates. Going to school for 12 years -- it was hurtful."



She and fellow classmate Cameron Bradford are members of state representative Sylvester Turner's Youth Leadership Team. It surveyed local school districts and their graduation numbers. They found that many seniors with sufficient credits needed to graduate could not because they failed part of the TAKS test.

"At one point in time, this test was designed to see if a student was prepared for college courses. But now, it's becoming a speed bump on the road to graduation. However, when 1,997 students are affected by the speed bump, it becomes a huge problem."

"It is a state-wide issue for Texas, and even more than that, it is becoming a nationwide issue, because we're all driven now by test results."

Representative Turner says the test itself is well intentioned, problems have somehow made it difficult for everyone involved. He has some suggestions that he thinks would benefit students.

"If you pass every course in your senior year, don't fail a one, okay...go to the stage. Get your diploma. You've done well. That's one solution. Then, if you don't pass, take a summer course and pass it. That's another way of getting it done. A third way is to say you have entered the course exam in the 11th grade, and if you pass that, that's enough. That way, kids know if you do live up to the requirements of the school and school district, you are going to graduate, parents know that, the kids know that, the teachers know that, and we still achieve the same purpose."

Changes are in the works for the exams, but they won't take effect until 2011.

Pat Hernandez. KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...