|School’s out early for many who pass
Saltillo, C-P students who succeed on standardized test get last 10 days off
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
MAY 16, 2006 - If it seems like a number of local students are out of school early, it's because they are.
At least two local schools are taking advantage of a legislative mandate which allows districts to reward students in grades 3-12 with up to 10 extra days off if they have passed all sections of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test.
It also provides educators with extra time to devote toward specialized attention for students who need a bit more help in order to do well on the test.
Senate Bill 346, passed in 2003 by the 78th Legislature and implemented in January 2005, allows schools to reduce instructional days from the required 180 to 170 for students who are likely to or who have performed successfully on the TAKS test and who meet all local criteria for promotion to the next grade level. All other students are required to attend all 180 days.
This year, the Como-Pickton and Saltillo school districts opted for the flex year. For Saltillo, May 17 marked the last day for those students, according to SISD Superintendent Paul Jones.
Both school districts report preliminary TAKS scores with overall passing rates of 75 percent or higher.
"We're excited. Our TAKS scores have jumped significantly," C-P Superintendent Bryan Neal said Monday.
Saltillo ISD had a 96 percent pass rate on reading, 97 percent on English language arts, 83 percent on math, 94 percent on writing and 81 percent on science, according to preliminary TAKS data provided by Jones. These third through 12th grade students no longer have to report for class this school year as of Wednesday.
At Como-Pickton, 95.8 percent of students tested passed the reading/English language arts section of the TAKS test, 93 percent passed writing, 81.2 percent passed math, 78 percent passed science and 90.4 percent passed the social studies test. A full 100 percent of third graders passed the reading/English language arts section of the test, and all of the sixth graders tested passed both the reading and math tests.
C-P's lowest scores were on eighth and ninth grade math tests, and 10th grade science. Only 62.3 percent of the eighth graders and 61.3 percent of ninth graders tested passed the math portion of the TAKS test, and only 62.3 percent of 10th graders tested passed the science test.
"Our school calendar allows us to begin school after Labor Day and shows 170 school days for students who perform satisfactorily on TAKS [or other assessments]. Students who perform below the standard on the TAKS (or other assessment) will attend school 180 days," Neal noted. "This means that most of our students will begin after Labor Day and get out prior to the end of May (when they pass their test)."
Those 10 extra days will allow school personnel to work with the students who did not pass one or more sections of the test one-on-one or in small groups, giving them more individualized instruction tailored toward their specific needs.
Jones noted that students through second grade will still be required to report for classes through June 1, as those grades do not take the TAKS test. Also, any parent who does not have day care for children in lower grades who are eligible for the early dismissal date can still send that child to school as usual through June 1. Any student who has passed the TAKS test and still wants to go to school May 18-June 1 may still do so.