For those of you who do not live in Texas, TAKS stands for Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Before the kids take TAKS, we are supposed to teach TEKS--Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The operating assumption on the part of those who designed the tests is that all students will be proficient in all academic areas. Whoa.
Suppose we had a school for animals, and wanted them all to be equally proficient? The duck would get A+ in swimming and diving, but fail tree climbing. The squirrel would get A+ in tree climbing but refuse to take swimming class, which would result in a disciplinary action. The horse would ace running, but fail honey gathering; the bear would pass honey gathering, but only get a C in running.
My point....and I do have one... is that we do not all have the same gifts, nor do we all have the same intelligences or learning styles. Whereas I excell in vocabulary, grammar and writing skills, I am woefully inadequate in math--I'm not sure I could even get a diploma, let alone a college degree, if I were in high school these days.
So why are we as a society holding all students to the same standard? Why are we assuming, as an educational institution, that all students are going to college, and therefore should all be taking the college prep courses? We may be slowing running out of ditch digging jobs, but we will always, I think, need plumbers, electricians, mechanics, people who work with their hands as much as with their minds, who don't excel at distinguishing good poetry from rubbish, but who can keep the sewers operating, the lights burning, and our cars running.
Okay, there's my rant for today.
But relative to the subject is this conversation I had with a new teacher, about 10 days before TAKS testing was scheduled:
New Teacher: What does TAKS stand for?
Me: Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.
NT: Oh. So what does TEKS stand for?
Me: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
NT: Hmm. I gues that I should teach the TEKS before the kids take the TAKS then?
Me: (suppressing laughter) Yes, that would probably be a good idea.