Tackling The TAKS, Part 1

Parents of third graders squeeze in to children's desks to focus on a reading test their children will take on March 4th. A beginning to tackling the TAKS is to have an idea of what to expect, and that's about all teachers can give you.

"We have been given a general idea of what's going to be on the test, but we don't know specifics, so we're just kind of doing our best to figure this out as you are," said Judy McReynolds, a third grade teacher.

We do know there are four basic objectives on the TAKS test. Objective one requires students to show a basic understanding of what they read, including identifying a summary.

"And let me tell you folks, right there is one of the hardest things that your children will have to do on the reading portion of the TAKS test," said McReynolds.

Objective two requires youngsters to apply knowledge of literary elements, including analyzing characters.

"They're going have to analyze, break things apart, think about it, decide what they got, what they have to do," said Tahna Cody, a Curriculum Specialist.

Objective three requires the students to use graphs and sequence charts as strategies in analyzing pretty lengthy stories.

"We've talked about endurance. There will be four or five stories. They do tell us they're going to be between 500-700 words long," said Cody.

Finally, students will apply critical thinking skills. They must draw conclusions and predict.

"It sounds like it's going to be a difficult test, but they're going to have to use a higher level of thinking to get through the test. It's not like it used to be, that's for sure," said Connie Lorenz, a parent.

As these parents found out when they took a sample reading test. The questions can be tricky for even college-educated adults.

"It's kind of scary for us as parents, but I think we need it. I think our kids need to be pushed further than what they've had to be pushed in the past," said Lorenz.

There are parents who disagree, such as the ones who conducted a TAKS protest at the State Capitol. Despite opinions, one thing is a given. A counselor told parents testing is not going away. This is going to be a way of life for kids as long as they're in school.