An Analysis of Performance of ESL Students on Various Social Studies Objectives and Test Items on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Test
MetadataShow full item record
The content area of social studies has not been given as much attention as its counterparts despite its inclusion in the state wide TAKS exam in Texas. All students in grades 8, 10, and 11 are required to take the social studies portion, and must pass it in order to graduate. The consequences of such a test and the importance of social studies in the everyday lives of students make this content area important. In addition, since ESL students constitute a considerable segment of the student population in our schools nowadays, it is essential that educators understand the challenges these students face and the experiences they go through in such content areas and tests; thus, their performance in the TAKS exam is examined in this study. The purpose of this study was to analyze the performance of ESL students in the social studies TAKS exams in grades 8 and 11 in relation to content (represented by the five objectives of the test), and question item format (limited to two text-enriched question types: excerpt-based, and bullet-point questions). The study also sought to find the effects of demographic variables on student performance. The results of the study can further familiarize educators with the challenges ESL students face in social studies to be able to assist them succeed in their classrooms and on standardized tests. This study utilized secondary data analysis with a set of data provided from the Texas Education Agency. The data included information of the students who took the Spring 2003, 2006, and 2009 social studies TAKS exams, which allowed the researcher to conduct longitudinal analysis to further support the results. Overall, the study was non-experimental and descriptive in nature. A statistical significant difference was found between the percentages of correct answers by objective. ESL students performed better on objectives 3 (economics) and 5 (social studies skills), while lagging behind in objective 1 (history). The results were also confirmed in the longitudinal study that showed that although ESL students’ performance increased in all five objectives, there was statistically significant difference in the performance of ESL students among the objectives. In relation to question type, ESL students chose more correct answers for the bullet-point questions than they did for the excerpt-based questions with statistical significance. Longitudinal analysis of excerpt-based questions only showed that ESL students who took the exam in 11th grade three years after taking it in 8th grade, achieved higher. Finally, the results of the study show that the three demographic variables of gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status had an effect on the performance of ESL students. Overall, males scored higher than females, economically non-disadvantaged students outperformed disadvantaged students, and Hispanic ESL students had the lowest scores of all the ethnic groups.
Musa, Ahlam (2013). An Analysis of Performance of ESL Students on Various Social Studies Objectives and Test Items on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Test. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from