TAKS Alternative Testing Under Question

by Tashun Chism

Some East Texas teachers are unhappy with the TAKS Alternative Test for mentally disabled students.

"It's an online assessment that the teachers do. It's not a pen and paper test that these children do. It's an assessment of activities and to determine if they meet predetermined criteria that the teachers set and they're tested on text that the state says we must test on, " Lufkin ISD Special Education Director Deidra Harrison said.

The TAKS Alternative Test is designed to be the state's answer to meeting the requirements of the no child left behind act. However, for some teachers, it's been a burden on them and their special education students.

"It's very involved and it's very different from anything we're done before. So a lot of teachers are having difficulty figuring out how they're going to desing that activity, submitting it in to TEA. It's all on computer so sometimes that's very challenging for the teacher. It's a lot, and it's just not anything these teachers are used to doing," said Harrison.

Some teachers even believe certain school districts are using the TAKS Alternative Test to give severely mentally disabled students high marks so their schools will look better. Lufkin ISD leaders disagree. They say the test is just an assessment to see what skill level the students are at.

"They really don't pass or fail. You either meet the criteria or you don't meet the criteria. It doesn't have anything to do with passing or failing. Doesn't have anything to do with whether you go on to the next grade," said Harrison.

Lufkin school officials know the TAKS Alternative Test and training may be difficult for teachers and students now, but it's all for the benefit of the students.

"Each one is different. None of them are alike. So you measure each one of them individually and what they can do to go on, and try to give them as many skills as you can before they graduate."