AUSTIN - The state’s high-stakes high school exit exam would be replaced by a series of end-of-course tests under legislation progressing through the Legislature.
The measure given tentative approval in the House Monday would replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills with exams in four core subjects for students in grades 9 to 11. Younger students would still have to take the standardized exam.
An amendment added to the bill Monday would also replace the math and reading TAKS test in sixth, seventh and eighth grade.
The high-stakes nature of the TAKS has been lambasted by teachers and parents, who argue that too much classroom time is spent on preparing students for the test. Students must pass the test to graduate.
“Teachers will now be able to focus on the deep content of their course because they will not have to review previous content to prepare for the test,” said Republican Rep. Rob Eissler, who introduced the bill in the House.
The proposal would be phased in over several years, starting with students who are in ninth grade in 2011-12. Once the House gives final approval, which is expected Tuesday, the bill will go back to the Senate. The Senate can either agree with House amendments or ask for a conference committee to negotiate the differences.
The end-of-course exams would be given in English language arts, math, science and social studies. Each test would be worth 100 points and students would have to earn 840 points - or 70 percent of a possible 1,200 points - to graduate. That means a student who struggles with one subject could make up points by excelling in another.
Each test grade would also count as 15 percent of the student’s course grade. Students who perform well on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and SAT subject tests could have those scores counted toward the end of course exam requirement.
A handful of states, including New York, Tennessee, North Carolina and Maryland, already use end-of-course exams in place of high-stakes tests. End exams can be used to fulfill the No Child Left Behind requirement for testing if they are standardized.
Besides eliminating the exit exam, the legislation would direct school districts to administer the PSAT to eighth and 10th graders every year at state expense. Juniors and seniors also would be able to take the SAT or ACT once at state expense.
The end-of-course exam bill is SB1031.