Parental Perceptions of the Effects of the high-Stakes TAKS Test on the Home Lives of At-Risk Fifth Grade Students
In Texas, fifth grade students are required to pass both the reading and math sections of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS test, in order to be promoted to the next grade level. The purpose of this study is to describe parents’ perceptions of the influence of the high-stakes TAKS test on the family lives of at-risk fifth grade students. Parents of students identified as at-risk for failure on the TAKS test by their schools were given a 12-item survey with three components: the effects of TAKS on the student and family, the effects of TAKS on how students spend time outside of school, and parent attitudes about TAKS as a fair measure of achievement. A series of three one-way ANOVAS was used, comparing each independent variable (family, time, and fairness) to a series of dependent variables (gender, race, and attendance at a Title I school) to look for variability between these groups in their attitudes towards the independent variables. The results indicated that many parents perceive that the TAKS affects their families by causing their child and other family members to express concerns about passing the test and by causing the parent to worry about how their child is reacting to the pressures of the test. Parents perceived that the TAKS test affects how much time students spend playing with friends as well as watching television or movies. Many parents did not agree that TAKS is a fair measure of student achievement for their child or other children. The ANOVAs indicated statistically significant findings among race groups and their scores on “family” and “fairness.” Asian/Pacific Islander parents indicated significantly less effect of TAKS on their student and family than did white parents. Asian/Pacific Islander parents also perceived TAKS as fairer measure of student achievement than did white parents. As well, Hispanic parents also perceived TAKS as a fairer measure of student achievement than did both white and Black/African American parents. Findings indicate that perhaps schools and teachers would be surprised to discover the amount of stress TAKS is causing families and students, particularly those at risk for failure as well as those groups that might not have previously been thought to “care” about school. The level of negativity caused by TAKS appears to be an undesirable unintended consequence of the assessment system, so educators may want to reconsider their policies and practices for TAKS-related parent engagement, homework, and test preparation.