Monday, April 24, 2006

You might be a rich kid if...
your entire class aces the TAKS

  • "Your kid can always clean my house for a living, though. Everyone quitchabitchin' and break out your cat-o-ninetails: your kid needs some solid slavedriving to pull out of their TAKS tailspin."
  • - Kyle, junior, Frisco ISD


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First off: I don't know whether your ancestors were slaves or slavedrivers, but try a different metaphor, Kyle.

"one of the forces driving people into the exurbs is the ability, with cheaper housing - in Frisco, the median home price is $228,827, city officials say - to cut back to one income and allow a parent to stay home and get more deeply involved in school and family activities." New York Times

Some people mistakenly think a high TAKS score means "intelligent" or "ready for college." High grades correlate with college success; TAKS scores do not. Research proves the standardized testing bias toward rich districts (Constantino, 1992; Valenzuela, 2004; Valenica, 2001). As in Frisco ISD, certain kids get new textbooks, functional buildings, quality healthcare, better preschool, many extra curriculars, smaller classes, more qualified teachers, less crime in schools, more parental involvement, and three times the spending per pupil (CPPP, 1998). Rich districts buy the best teachers, a bright future and high test scores (even lower-income children do better in wealthy districts). Frisco has 3 exemplary and 16 recognized schools (Edgewood has 3 recognized). This means even more money for their already rich schools. Good for them, bad for equal education.

I wish all Texas parents were "deeply involved in school." I wish all Texas students had the opportunities Frisco ISD provides. But Kyle's solution is everyone should move to a rich district. Well, Most Texas parents cannot afford those houses. Frisco, specifically, creates neighborhood rules and covenants to keep out middle-class and working-class developments. In San Antonio, a median income family can afford a $60,000 house (HHS, 2003). Homes in Alamo Heights, Sugarland, Plano, and Frisco cost four times that much.

It's possible to overcome TAKS problems when teachers, resources, and families are strong enough. And even in poor districts, many kids do overcome. This does not mean the TAKS itself is beneficial. Just as success "during group project time" doesn't prove proficiency, standardized test scores have low reliability, low validity, and, in the case of TAKS, low predictivity (Bracey, 2000).

The state and districts fail to provide resources equal to districts like Frisco ISD. So of course the students fail. Then, instead of the state being punished for not doing its job, the child is punished for not overcoming ridiculous obstacles. Certainly, some kids are not ready for college (or will NEVER be ready for college). That's irrelevant. My point is, TAKS does not answer this question. A multiple criteria assessment gives the answer (Brochin-Ceballos, Hinton, & Payne, 2005).

The only question TAKS answers reliably is "What is the median income in your district?" TAKS does not measure thinking skills. Even Kyle admits this. Schools must teach THINKING, not memorization. TAKS training days provide useless memorization, even in rich districts.

First, fund every student equally. If rich parents want a more expensive education, thats fine, they can buy private schools. "But when parents attempt to obtain better educational opportunities for their children at the expense of somebody else's children, it creates social, moral, legal and political problems" (Cardenas, 1997). Public schools should ALL be excellent. Instead they are segregated, rich kids here, everyone else over there. TAKS is a tool to justify this separation: "that proves it," say the anti-school lobbyists, "the poor kids are stupid, so they don't deserve tax money, anyway."

Kyle, that's nice that you can hire a "slave" to clean your house, but you need to appreciate how lucky you are. Did YOU earn the money that pays for your house? Do kids in the underfunded Edgewood, East Central (SA), or Houston ISD deserve a terrible education? You want to punish children because of where their parents live?

What does a high TAKS score prove? It proves there are rich people at your school. Congratulations.

5 Comments:

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family is what one would call low income. When my children went to a school in a high income school district in AZ, because their grandfather lived in that district, they performed at an average level on state mandated testing. Here in TX we live in a small town with 4 elementary schools. All 4 have children from all income levels. My oldest child's performance on the 5th grade reading, math and science TAKS was commended (missed 1 question), commended (Perftect score) and commended (missed 1 question) respectivly. So to say that income in the school is the main reason is incorrect. Our schools encourage our children. They use tried and true techniques to prevent "test anxiety", and go so far as to provide water bottles and breakfast to every child taking a TAKS test that day. I know some of the kids in my children's school that come from money, and they did not score as well, even with special tutoring provided by the parents. Money is not the issue. Our teachers don't make more here than big city districts, but they have something I find lacking in those places, they love their jobs, and their students. We have teachers in our district that came after teaching just a couple years other places, and once they get here, they don't leave. I think community and parental involvement is a bigger issue.

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Ashley said...

I also agree with the last comment. Income does not mean higher or lower test scores. I attend a Fort Bend ISD school and DON'T LIVE IN SUGARLAND. In fact, I am white/hispanic and live in a small community that has many hispanics and minority cultures mixed. I am by far not rich. Our school is not as funded as it is needed to be either. So tell me? Does that mean I'm not qualified to pass the TAKS? Even though I PASSED THE EXIT LEVEL TAKS WITH EVEN A COMMENDED PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS and SOCIAL STUDIES? I also know some minorities who live here that have passed and ready to graduate next year also. So I think it depends on the Schools and the parental involvment that can determine if a child should pass or fail. It's not simply a matter of income.

 
At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Frisco and have a son to whom this "wealthy" district has refused reading services. As such, he is unable to take the SDAA at a Kindergarten level in reading.

Undoubtedly, the attorney refusing the service has been well paid.

 
At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many children in districts like Frisco ISD attended private school for at least 2-4 years as well. Surely, that throws a wrench in the assessment process?

 
At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAKS - leaves the smart ones behind. My kids do almost nothing for the 2 months leading up to TAKS. My third grader reader read from 3-5 hours a day while the teachers worked on TAKS reviews and work so the least able child in the class could pass.
I am all for starting a TAKS revolt. It is what all schools are judged by and it is pretty poor standards and a poor reflection of really makes for good schools.

 

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