Freshmen to Take End Of Course Exams

Freshmen+to+Take+End+Of+Course+Exams

Amanda Granato, Assistant/Copy Editor

End of Course (EOC) exams, along with State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) will replace the once standard Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Freshmen entering during the 2011-2012 school year taking courses with EOC exams tied to them will take the exams as their exit-level tests in English I-III, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, World Geography and United States History.

“Its a good thing we are phasing [EOC and STARR testing] in, because now we’re really only worried about the ninth grade students and the tests they’re going to take,” Dr. Jim Vaszauskas, the MISD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability said.

EOC exam scores, unlike TAKS scores, tie into the student’s overall course grade by 15 percent, meaning hypothetically a student who passed both semesters can fail the course if they fail the EOC. However, the district has created a system in an attempt to make EOC scores have a positive effect [see graphic].

“What we want to do as a district is be student friendly,” Dr. Vaszauskas said. “We didn’t want students who worked hard with their teachers to pass the course to fail because of the EOC. So we made it so even if the student failed the EOC its still possible for them to pass the course.”

Along with the 15 percent attachment to the overall course grade, EOC and STAAR tests will have a cumulative score that will follow the student through all subsequent testing in that subject. In other words, for each test taken in a course, the score for each will be added together and the final score must be at or above a certain number. Students who do not reach the minimum cumulative score set by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) may retake any assessment within the content area until they meet the score.

“It didn’t make sense to us that if a student had a bad day, or was weak in a subject, that their low score would come back to hit them twice,” Dr. Vaszauskas said. “To avoid a double jeopardy, we helped them on the course average, but they still have to watch the cumulative scores.”

 


 

 

 


 

Spring testing days will go from the original 13 days for TAKS to 45 days under STARR and EOC. This year testing will run Mar 5 to May 18, coinciding with several AP testing days.

“The testing schedule will be tough on the kids, but we have to be organized,” Assistant Principal Christine Englert said. “I think we’ll do fine, because we’re good at testing. We’re covering all of our bases and hopefully we will be ready when spring comes.”

According to Dr. Vaszauskas, one of the main motivations behind implementing the STAAR and EOC exams was that students didn’t take TAKS seriously.

“TAKS wasn’t hard, it was all just based on your grade level, and not the class you were in. I always forgot the stuff I did the year before, and I didn’t want to test over it,” sophomore Dillon Jones said.

By factoring EOC scores in with student’s course grades the Texas Education Agency hopes to make students accountable for what they learn.

“We took an Algebra EOC last year,” freshman Brayden Its said. “It was harder, definitely, but TAKS seemed too easy. TAKS didn’t count toward your grade either, and I think people will take [the EOC] more seriously since it affects your grade.”

Physics teacher John Davis believes the EOC exams will replace TAKS in a positive way by focusing on current subject material.

“I think giving end of course exams will be more relevant to what the students are learning,” Mr. Davis said. “Teachers won’t have to stop their curriculum to teach old curriculum, and students don’t have to focus on more than one subject.”