Texas Lawmakers Propose End to College Readiness Test
Legislators have proposed eliminating the Texas Academic Program Skills Test, which has been used for more than a decade to decide whether students are ready for college classes. Opponents of the test see it as an obstacle to the state’s desire to increase its college graduates, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
About 200,000 students, most of them headed for community colleges, take the test every year. Four-year universities prefer that their applicants take the SAT or the ACT.
Students who take the TASP Test must pass all three sections: writing, reading and math. If they fail one or more sections, they must take remedial classes before they can sign up for a college class.
The remedial program costs taxpayers close to $100 million a year, but more than half the students drop out of the classes.
Legislators say the test is too demanding. They argue that with the state facing a record budget shortfall, dollars are being ill-spent on the remedial program.
Community college faculty members say that doing away with the test will not correct deficiencies in students’ academic abilities and will make it more difficult to detect weaknesses.
Lobbying hard to save it from extinction is Amherst, Mass.-based National Evaluation Systems Inc., the company that gives the test and charges students $29 to $85, depending on whether they take the paper or electronic version.
Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Texas, author of House Bill 796 now pending in the House Higher Education Committee, is leading the effort to kill the program.
“I consider TASP to be redundant and duplicative,” she says. “It has such a bad reputation, particularly at the community college level, that it is a barrier for students to even start to pursue their higher ed goals.”
Richard Moore, executive director of the Texas Community College Teachers Association, said the test is critical to helping students succeed.
“A statewide program of testing and remediation is not an obstacle to students, but a failure to identify and work with those in need would be a devastating obstacle,” Moore says. “We can announce every student is college-ready, but we will have not changed anything.”
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