Reviewing problems with current End of Course (EOC) rules
Members of the Texas Legislature in recent weeks have been communicating about their desire to focus on school choice and vouchers in the 83rd Legislative session this January.
Another critical issue to address are the current rules related to the implementation of the STAAR End of Course (EOC) testing.
These are some of the areas of STAAR EOC implementation to be reviewed:
Final decision on the 15% rule
The original plan for the Texas High School STAAR EOC tests was that in order to ensure that students took all of the exams seriously, as opposed to the idea that under TAKS they only were concerned about the 11th grade exit exams, the EOC results would count as 15% of the students course grade. Various problems emerged with the practical implementation of this rule including:
- Determining the impact of EOC score on class rank and grade point averages
- Determining the impact of and the allowable numbers of retakes
- The fact that STAAR EOC scores would arrive after graduation in many schools
- Determining how to convert EOC scores into a 0-100 scale
- Determining awarding of course credit and appropriate course placement the following year for students who would pass a course but fail the EOC exam
After much work was being done by various school districts on developing plausible solutions to these problems, the Texas Education Agency began issuing a series of rules guidelines that disallowed many of the most workable solutions. Finally the Texas Commissioner of Education announced the opportunity for districts to suspend implementation of the 15% rule during the 2011-12 school year.
In 2012-13, school districts will have to continue working on their implementation plans for the 15% rule unless they receive word on the permanent removal of this requirement.
The unfunded costs of EOC implementation
In a year of fiscal reduction, the implementation of the STAAR EOC tests created several new expenses for school districts:
- The costs of providing required summer intervention and retesting required for the EOC. Districts had to hire extra staff, keep buildings open in the summer, purchase or create review materials, and develop and communicate these plans to affected students and parents.
- School districts are currently determining how they will provide intervention for those students during the Fall who must still retest in December. New expenses include tutoring, transportation, and additional staff for intervention and test administration.
- In the case of summer intervention many districts were forced to pay premium salaries in order to find enough qualified staff willing to work those extra duty assignments.
How the EOC requirements affect individual students
Students who entered high school as part of the 2011-12 cohort face many or all of these scenarios:
- They will need to take up to 15 EOC exams as part of their graduation requirements.
- Students who earn the required credits for the recommended or distinguished diplomas will not receive those diplomas unless they also obtain high enough cumulative EOC scores.
- Students and Parents must keep track of the changing requirements for satisfactory performance and cumulative score on the EOCs which are determined by the first year in which the student tests in that particular content area.
- Students may need to retest certain EOCS for which they have already received a satisfactory score in order to meet their cumulative score requirements.
- Students may have already received credit for a course taken in the 2011-12 school year, but must retake the EOC test for that course in the 2012-13 school year even though they are no longer enrolled in or receiving instruction in that course.
- 10th grade students this year could be faced with taking up to 10 EOC exams including 5 for courses for which they are no longer enrolled. 11th grade students in 2013-14 could be faced with taking up to 15 EOC exams including 10 for courses for which they are no longer enrolled.
- Permanently eliminate the requirement for EOC scores to factor as 15% of a student's course grade.
- Provide a separate funding allocation for the required additional STAAR EOC intervention and retesting.
- Allow teachers and school districts to make decisions on awarding credit and diplomas and limit the impact of the EOCs on graduation requirements to the 11th grade exams only. This is similar to the rules for the TAKS and TAAS.
What are other problems or solutions with the current EOC rules?