TAKS Scores For Texas Hispanic Students Are Up - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/24/04 - Tyler

TAKS Scores For Texas Hispanic Students Are Up

The results are in for the state reading TAKS test and there's plenty of good news. Statewide more third graders passed the exam this year.

91% of third graders passed.  That's up from 89% last year.

But the most dramatic improvement is with hispanic students. 82% of predominantly Spanish speaking students passed compared to just 70% the year before.

Children at Tyler's Birdwell Elementary, who primarily speak Spanish, are taught the same lessons and take the same TAKS test as every other Texas child.  Their lessons are simply in the language they understand.

"The bylingual children are very intelligent and they're very excited about learning and very respectful very eager to do anything at school because a lot of it they have not had the opportunity to do," says Principal, Donna Bundy.

In the past hispanic students passing the reading portion of the TAKS test have lagged far behind both black and white students. So for months these teachers have been preparing them for the test. 

"We have to teach comprehension which is reading a passage and understanding what it says. We actually teach vocabulary. We also teach specific details," says Donna.

These teachers say over the last several years every Texas school is becoming more successful in teaching the basics to it's Spanish speaking children.  The key, they say, is thinking out of the box.

"You make it fun. You have interactive. You have them hands on doing and learning and challenging them. Make games out of it. Compete between classrooms," says instructional consultant Frances Balderrama.

Besides the basics, teachers say what's really changing for hispanic students is the expectation they can be just as successful as any other Texas student.

"I think we're closing the gap. We are and I think statewide we are closing that gap also," says Donna.

If a student does not pass the tests they are immediately provided with additional instruction to boost their reading skills. Also they'll have three opportunitites to pass the test.

By the way, 100% of the bilingual students at Birdwell Elementary passed the reading portion of the TAKS test.

Amy Tatum, reporting. 

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