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Our Texas Students Want an Education Not a Test-a-cation

Education Not A Test-a-cationFifth Grade STAAR TEST 2013 #38Texas schools start preparing for the end of the year STAAR test when school starts.

Very little is taught unless it is part of the state standards called TEKS, which are said to provide the needed guide to prepare kids for the STAAR Tests.

The 5th grade STAAR test question #39 from 2013 lists TEKS 3.5C . This is a content TEKS that is suppose to describe what teachers are to include in their lessons to prepare students for the end of school STAAR test.

TEKS 3.5C states that students are expected to:
Predict, observe and record changes in the state of matter caused by heating or cooling.

Now read STAAR question #38 shown. What do you think? Does this TEKS provide clues so that 5th grade science teachers know to explain that the mass of ice doesn’t affect the temperature at which ice melts. In fact, I do not find any K-5th grade TEKS that clues teachers to include the relation of mass or volume to the temperature at which water changes its state of matter.

TEKS 5.5B states that students are expected to:
Identify the boiling and freezing/melting points of water on the Celsius scale.

The Science TEKS are said to be more rigorous to better prepare for the Rigorous Science  STAAR TEST.

Does rigor mean the TEKS are vague and teachers have to rigorously search for information to try to understand what to teach?

Does rigor mean the STAAR test question cover science content that the TEKS do not give any clues about?

The 5th Grade Science 2013 STAAR TEST have few correct examples for the scientific method represented by the Science Process Skill TEKS.

Gloria Zyskowski is the Division Director of Texas Student Assessments. I asked Ms. Zyskowski about STAAR questions that do not reflect the process skills code 5.2D. Ms. Zyskowski said:
 One of the characteristics of the STAAR testing program is its emphasis on student ability to think critically and to apply the assessed knowledge and skills in varied contexts.
 Ms. Zyskowski interprets process skill TEKS 5.2D as being any example where students analyze  and interpret information then evaluate options and choose the best one.
 
TEKS 5.2  Specifically states that this process skills TEKS involves Scientific investigating and reasoning. The student uses scientific methods during laboratory and outdoor investigations. The student is expected to:
D)  analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations from direct (observable) and indirect (inferred) evidence;
While Question #38 describes a procedure for an investigation. There is no information about the purpose of the investigation, and the choices of answers isn’t something the students are measuring. Thus, Question #38 is not a valid assessment of student understanding of process skill code 5.2D. This is very important because science questions with two codes have double point deducted if students miss the question. Since there are no TEKS in elementary K-5 that indicated that students must know that neither mass nor volume affect the boiling, freezing, or melting points of water, students might be likely to miss this question.
Check out the video on this website. The kids are opted out of STAAR. If you are interested in opting your children out of the STAAR tests, you can find out more about the process here: http://kyledmassey.com/optout-video/
Parents will make the biggest difference how their children are educated. First, insist on textbooks. Then, request a copy of every graded document, this includes tests. Ask the teacher to explain parts you don’t understand. Schools say they want parent to be involved, well be involved. Volunteer at the school. Many Kids in Texas read below grade level. Read more with your children. Turn the TV off and read. Volunteer to help kids at school read. Know what is going on at your school.
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