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December 11, 2002

In July 2000, the Texas Education Agency committed to providing planning reports to educators each year prior to the spring 2003 administration of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) that would contain analyses to assist in preparing for new developments in assessment and accountability. This correspondence is notification of the availability of the third in that series of planning reports.

The 2003 Early Indicator Reports will be available from the Texas Education Agency’s website by 10 a.m. on December 13, 2002. These reports are not being mailed to districts. To view and/or print the reports, type the following address on your web browser and follow the directions given at this site. Printing instructions and answers to Frequently Asked Questions are available by following the “help” link.

The 2002-03 school year began the process of change that will have a major impact on Texas public school education at every level. This year, 3rd grade students must pass the state assessment in reading to be promoted without the consultation of the grade placement committee. Beginning in 2003-04, high school students in grade 11 will also be required to pass the state assessments in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies in order to graduate. Simultaneously, the rigor of those assessments will increase substantially. The three changes highlighted below represent significant increases in expectations for Texas public education:

• NEW STATE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM. Beginning this year, the TAKS will be administered to students at grades 3 through 11. The new assessments are more rigorous than the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) tests of prior years. This is because they are based on the more rigorous state-mandated curriculum (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS) and because they are linked in difficulty to an exit-level testing requirement for graduation that incorporates higher expectations.

• TESTING REQUIREMENT FOR GRADUATION. As stated above, the testing requirements for graduation will increase and the exit-level test will be designed for the 11th grade. Unlike the current exit-level tests administered in 10th grade in reading, writing, and mathematics, the new grade 11 TAKS tests will assess English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, and require knowledge of Algebra I and Geometry, Biology and integrated Chemistry and Physics, English III, early American and United States History, world geography, and world history. The class of 2005 (10th grade students in 2002-03) will be the first class required to pass the TAKS assessments in order to graduate. The first testing opportunity on the new exit-level assessments for these students will be the spring semester of 2003-04, when they will be in 11th grade.

• STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVE. This school year is also the first year of implementation of the Student Success Initiative (SSI). Students in grade 3 must pass the state assessment in reading to be promoted without the consultation of a grade placement committee. Beginning in 2005, students in grade 5 must pass reading and mathematics to be promoted; beginning in 2008, students in grade 8 must pass reading and mathematics to be promoted.

REPORT FOCUS. The Early Indicator Reports are designed to highlight areas of performance that may need strengthening in order for students to meet these new testing requirements. Future accountability ratings will be based on student performance results on these new assessments. However, the focus here is to provide schools and districts with additional ways of reviewing 2002 TAAS and End-of-Course (EOC) results to assist with the analysis of the skills and knowledge that students will need to meet the TAKS testing requirements, especially those for graduation.

REPORT CONTENT. The report, titled 2003 Early Indicator Report, December 2002, is generated for all districts and campuses that serve students in grades 7 and above. The 2003 Early Indicator Report, December 2002 contains information on the following topics. See the enclosed Glossary for details about these topics.

• 2002 Grade 8 All TAAS Tests.
• 2002 Grade 8 TAAS By Subject.
* Cumulative End-of-Course Exam.
* End-of-Course Exam (as shown on 2001-02 AEIS).
* Class of 2001 Completion Rates (as shown on 2001-02 AEIS).

HOW TO USE THE REPORTS. All of this information is for your use in planning. Please examine the data provided and determine strengths and weaknesses of your current instructional program so you can continue to prepare students for the new, more rigorous graduation testing requirements, and make adjustments when necessary. As you examine the reports, the magnitude of the task ahead is clear. We have the remainder of this school year and the 2003-04 school year to make the curriculum and staff development adjustments needed before the first group of 11th graders is held to this new standard. Students failing one or more of the exit-level test sections will then have one more year to pass in order to graduate on time with their class. In addition to the December 2002 reports and associated Glossary, a supplementary guide titled How to Use the 2003 Early Indicator Report (Provided by the Texas Education Agency) is attached to assist you.

Although the new assessment system and graduation requirements represent significant increases in expectations for our students, the increases in student performance achieved over the last nine years are testimony to the ability of Texas educators to respond to difficult challenges. The 11th graders in 2004 and beyond who meet these higher exit-level expectations will be the best-prepared young adults Texas public schools have ever produced. Questions on the 2003 Early Indicator Report may be directed to the Division of Performance Reporting at (512) 463-9704.


Criss Cloudt, Associate Commissioner
Accountability Reporting and Research

2003 Early Indicator Reports
Glossary for 2003 Early Indicator Report
How to Use the 2003 Early Indicator Report

A MS Word Version of this letter is available for download.


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