End of Course Signals Start of Success
End of Course (EOC) exams, along with State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) will replace the once standard Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) for entering freshmen this school year. By replacing the none-too-demanding TAKS tests with tests that will better determine the student’s full understanding of the course, the Texas Education Agency(TEA) will benefit students in the long run.
TAKS was flawed because the materials it tested were based on grade level alone. Meaning a freshman student in Geometry, having taken Algebra I in eighth grade, would have to take a TAKS entirely over algebra and lower level math, rather than over the actual course material they had studied all year— a trend that would continue throughout their high school career. EOC exams test exactly what one would expect them to—the course completed by the students, challenging all students on a more leveled playing field.
EOC exams are supposedly significantly more rigorous than their predecessor, leading to the logical concern that students struggling to pass TAKS will have more trouble passing the new tests. However, rather than focusing on covering Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, teachers can now go more in-depth on their subject material, helping students gain a better understanding of the subject. Also, the tests are based on course, assisting students by replacing the generalized material of TAKS with things the students have studied all year— not material hastily crammed into the two weeks before the test is given.
Another concern regarding the passing rate of the tests involves the new system tying exam grades to the overall course grade by 15 percent. Hypothetically, failing the EOC means potentially failing the class in which the student took the exam. Forseeing this possibility, MISD instituted a new policy reassessing the grading scale of the exam for the benefit of the student. Basically, if a student is passing the class with a minimum of a 70, MISD’s policy will ensure that, regardless of the EOC score, the student will pass the course. Not only will the new standard tying exam and course grades motivate students to work harder, it also manages to provide a cushion for the students’ overall grade.
End of Course exams, though perhaps providing more of a challenge for students and teachers alike, will heighten the standards Texas has set for its education and give a more thorough and accurate determination of students’ knowledge.