Students Criticize TAAS; Actions Planned

K-12 Testing

To elicit a perspective that tends to be neglected in the professional research on testing and education, two professors at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi asked their English department colleagues to offer first year students an opportunity to write essays describing their experiences with the English portion of the high-stakes Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) exams.


The project generated over 450 student responses, the vast majority very critical of the exams. Professors Glenn Blalock and Rich Haswell then published 400 “Student Views of TAAS” verbatim on the web in order to “let the essays speak for themselves.” They note that all the responses were from students who passed the exam, unlike thousands of their peers who were denied diplomas as a result of failing one or more portions of the TAAS and were therefore ineligible for admission to the University. To read the essays or contact the professors visit:  


Actions Planned
In an effort to build opposition to harmful uses of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) exams, parents and teachers are planning a series of small demonstrations that will build towards a larger protest next winter. The Brazos Valley Sudbury School in Houston, which does not use testing in its program, and a group of parents in nearby Alvin are planning protests for mid-April. “There is tons of evidence showing that misuse of testing causes major problems in Texas,” said Carol Holst, a parent activist in Alvin. “If we fail to speak up and insist on changes that will remedy the situation, the public school system will continue the downward, mind-numbing, test-prep spiral.”


El Paso-based Parents for Quality Assessments is organizing a statewide march on Austin next December. It is calling on the legislature to support two bills that would make the TAAS exams only one of several measures used to determine high-school graduation and promotion from the third grade.