Ramona Lowe

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Jeanne Gerlach


The primary purpose of this study was to provide quantitative data on the use of released Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exams as benchmark test instruments in a sample population. Teachers have expressed concern over "teaching to the test," especially with the use of benchmark testing. This study was specifically undertaken to determine the extent of this practice, especially in light of published material from Texas Education Agency (TEA) that states this practice is not an appropriate use of the released instrument. An additional purpose was to gain quantitative data on the use of data harvested from both benchmark administrations of TAKS instruments and actual TAKS administrations in decision-making. Related literature was reviewed at length to trace the history of the testing movement and conduct a detailed examination of its current context.District level supervisors/coordinators of English language arts from the North Central Texas area were chosen as the sample population for a brief survey questioning the use of released TAKS exams and the subsequent use of data harvested from those benchmark assessments, as well as the use of actual TAKS scores. Survey questions were developed and tested for validity and reliability before being sent to the survey pool of 75 educators from districts in a target area having a combined student population of 625, 797 according to TEA enrollment reports. The response rate was 52%. The survey was administered via SurveyMonkey©, and data were gathered and analyzed using descriptive statistics to establish quantitative terms on the use of the practices, and also using inferential statistics through SPSS, specifically using chi square tests and a Fisher's Exact Test to determine if there was a relationship between school district composition and the use of these practices. The test also contained two open-ended questions allowing for more elaboration.The percentage of respondents who indicated that their districts used released TAKS tests as benchmark instruments was 68.3%, with 80.5% disaggregating the data from both these administrations and actual TAKS tests. That number rose to 98.6% when adding those who said they only disaggregated data occasionally. Only 1.0% of respondents said they never disaggregated TAKS data. However, not quite half (47.5%) said their districts always or frequently used TAKS data alone to make important decisions regarding student interventions. Slightly more than one-third (37.5%) indicated that the results of a benchmark exam had an impact on district instructional/curricular decisions. Over half (52%) indicated their districts used the released TAKS exams in full scale rehearsals that significantly interrupted the school day to prepare for actual administration. Additionally, the respondents expressed their main concerns for the transition from TAKS to STAAR.The implication is more districts are using multiple data sources to inform their data-driven applications, even though many districts utilize released TAKS exams as benchmark instruments. Further research is suggested regarding the assessment literacy of educators, particularly in relation to the use of a summative test for harvesting diagnostic data as Texas transitions to the new STAAR/EOC exams.


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington