Parent's Guide to the TAAS for Grade 3

Overview


The TAAS

* The knowledge and skills it measures
* Interpreting your child's and your school's test results
* How you can help your child's teacher and school raise TAAS scores by reinforcing key concepts at home

Your Child

* Developing a positive, confident approach to the TAAS
* Home activities to build problem-solving and reading comprehension skills measured by the test
* Coping with test anxiety

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Overview


The TAAS

* The knowledge and skills it measures
* Interpreting your child's and your school's test results
* How you can help your child's teacher and school raise TAAS scores by reinforcing key concepts at home

Your Child

* Developing a positive, confident approach to the TAAS
* Home activities to build problem-solving and reading comprehension skills measured by the test
* Coping with test anxiety

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743214070
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.21 (d)

Introduction

INTRODUCTION

Although several years have passed since you were eight years old, your third-grade experience and your child's are probably not very different. There are still spelling bees at school, dodgeball games at recess, and giggling fits during class in which students try to stop laughing, but just can't. These are all memories you can share with your child. However, the memory of spending weeks in intensive preparation for a standardized test is one your child will have all on his or her own.

The standardized test in question is the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, more commonly known as the TAAS. Every year, every Texas student in grades three through eight has to take a version of the TAAS exam. (Another TAAS test is given in high school, and students are unable to graduate from high school until they pass it.) The TAAS third-grade test, which roughly two-hundred-fifty thousand pupils take annually, consists of a 36-question Reading test and a 44-question Mathematics test. All 80 questions are multiple choice.

It sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? But the third-grade TAAS isn't just any test, as you probably already know.

How the TAAS Was Born

Although the third-grade TAAS only covers math and reading, a little history will help put the test in perspective. The tests were established in 1990 under Governor Ann Richards to create a statewide system of accountability in Texas schools. The tests were designed to determine whether students were mastering basic curriculum skills laid out by the State Board of Education in 1988 and 1989. These basic skills, which the state periodically updates, are known as TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). A description of these standards can be found online at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks.

As you might already know, the emphasis on the TAAS is growing stronger, not weaker. With "accountability" the pervasive theme in national education, more and more states are following Texas's lead, setting academic standards and then rewarding or punishing schools depending on whether they achieve these standards. Already this trend has led to more than $420 million spent nationally to pay for these tests. (Texas spends roughly $25 million each year to pay for all administrations of the TAAS.) While this might seem like a boatload of cash, the boat might change into a supertanker if a bill known as "No Child Left Behind" gets passed by the United States Congress. Endorsed by President George W. Bush, the bill calls for the annual testing of all American students in grades three through eight in the subjects of reading and math. The introduction of this bill shows how standardized testing is rising in American education.

What's at Stake?

With so much emphasis being placed on these two tests, you'd think the third-graders who take it should be given the right to vote as a reward (at least in state elections). Quite a bit is at stake, for both the child and the school district. The state ranks 6,600 schools according to how well their students fare on the exam. Schools that do badly may have their principal fired or be forced to cede control of the school to the state. The importance of the TAAS test has spawned TAAS pep rallies at various schools, a host of lawsuits about the validity of the test, and a great deal of debate about the usefulness of standardized testing in public education.

As for the individual third-grader, by 2003 passing of the third-grade TAAS will be mandatory for promotion to the fourth grade. This is also the year that a new TAAS test, with slightly tougher standards, will make its debut. This worries some state legislators, such as Sylvester Turner of Houston, who worry that the tougher TAAS test, combined with mandatory promotion, will deny tens of thousands of third-graders access to the fourth grade. In 2001 Turner proposed a bill that would delay the promotional aspect until 2004, giving all Texas students one year to get acclimated with the new TAAS. However, many school districts already require a passing TAAS grade for promotion to the fourth grade, so Turner's bill will have no impact on these students, even if it passes.

How You Can Help

Many of you are already aware of how important the TAAS is to your son or daughter, which is why you picked up this book in the first place. While your child's teacher is probably already doing some TAAS-related work in the classroom, nothing is better for your child than receiving personal tutoring from someone she trusts, namely, you. Inside this book are all the facts, tips, questions, activities, and advice you will need to help your child succeed on the third-grade TAAS tests. The Parent's Guide to the TAAS for Grade 3 lets you know exactly what skills are being tested on the Math and Reading tests, gives you test-taking strategies to make approaching these tests easier, and tells you exactly how to teach your child these skills and strategies. By analyzing and discussing the test in detail, our goal is not only to provide you and your child with the basic knowledge she needs to excel on the test, but to instill a sense of confidence through familiarity, since feeling confident and prepared for the TAAS is a key factor in how a student fares on the test.

After reading this book, both you and your child should feel ready to take on the TAAS test first, and then the fourth grade. Though that feeling might not do you any good while you are at work, it will do wonders for your kid.

Copyright © 2001 by Anaxos Inc.

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