Food For Thought When it Comes to TAKS Writing

by Jessica Cervantez

Fourth graders throughout the state will be taking the writing portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test for the first time. And while no one knows exactly what to expect, one fourth grade Martinsville class is using food as a way to get students thinking creatively.

How do Subway sandwiches and writing relate? It is simple.

"Each detail you put in your story is like another condiment you put on your sandwich. The more details you have, the better your sandwich is too," said Conor Gross, a fourth grade student.

"Our stories are just like a sandwich. The stories should be juicy like a sandwich," said another student, Katy Bailey.

Patti Henderson, the students' teacher, wants her students to know that there is no right or wrong way when it comes to writing a story, similar to the type of sandwiches they like.

"They all have different tastes, but it's still all good. I want them to be comfortable with what they like and to be able to put it down on paper," said Henderson.

Although the kids will know they will be writing about their trip to Subway when they go back to the classroom, it will be anyone's guess as to what their writing prompt will be on the TAKS test. Teachers just hope the students will remember the skills they've been learning the past few weeks.

"They are going to write about their Subway sandwiches. Hopefully, it will get them to write one last thing down on paper before they do the real thing," said Henderson.

And the students were already practicing their skills as they recited juicy sentences about their trip to Subway. If that is any indication to how the students will score on their TAKS test, then they may have nothing to worry about.

Because fourth graders will be taking the writing portion of the TAKS test for the first time, many of you may be concerned on how the writing may be graded.

The students will receive a score of a one, two, three, or four on their compositions, with four being the best. Students must score at least a two to pass the writing portion. If they do well on their writing, the standard on how many multiple choice questions they must answer correctly is lowered.

But still, administrators are concerned about how the writing will be scored.

"I think so, somewhat, the people that score the test are trained to do it and they have multiple people to grade the test to ensure the consistency. So, they're trained to do it, but for us it's kind of hard to determine," said Martinsville Elementary Principal Lisa McKnight.

Fourth graders will not be held back from the fifth grade if they fail the writing portion of the TAKS.

Fourth graders will not be the only students taking the TAKS test tomorrow. Seventh grade will also be taking the writing portion. Ninth grade will take the reading portion and both tenth and eleventh grade will take the language arts portion.

Here are some last minute tips to ensure your children are prepared for the test:

1) Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.

2) And that they eat a good breakfast.

3) Have your child be on time for class, you don't want your child to feel rushed.

4) And make sure your child goes back and reviews his or her answers on the test.