Students at the Throckmorton Independent School District aren't wasting any time hitting the books this year. They're already back in class -- and all this week, kids will be undergoing Benchmark testing...to help prepare them for the crucial TAKS exam.
"There is a whole lot of pressure created by these tests and by the state legislatures," says Throckmorton ISD Superintendent Clay Tarpley, "And the purpose of the benchmarking is to help us prepare for that later assessment."
The Throckmortion ISD is wasting no time preparing students for the Texas TAKS test, especially after the high school received a one and a half star rating out of the state's 5 star accountability score.
"Basically the TAKS test for the school district is our reputation. I mean, it's how people look at the school district and see if they want to move to that community," explains the Superintendent. "Are the schools good or are they poor? And its our report card and it's our reputation."
This week's Benchmark testing gives students a similar examination environment without the pressures to perform. However, after this year, the TAKS test will begin to be phased out in favor of the new, expensive STAR test.
"We get out money from the state and if they are spending more money on testing, that's just fewer dollars that we will get in the long run for individual students," says the Superintendent.
He also says finances are just one of the multiple problems with the new test, including addressing special needs students and honor courses. When it comes to the TAKS test, Benchmark testing, or even the newer STARS test, the Superintendent says students will learn to the test.
"We are supposed to teach the test. I mean that is the way it is set up to do now," says Tarpley, "They are over-tested and the pressure is way too much to place a 3rd grader on how they do an a test. And is it fair? Probably not. But its the system we have so we make the best of it."