School and student characteristics of non-graduating seniors due to failure of TAKS tests in the Western Independent School District

Patricia Silva, University of Texas at El Paso


The purposes of this study were to: (1) describe characteristics, including gender, ethnicity, at-risk status, Limited English Proficient (LEP) status and economically disadvantaged status of seniors who did not graduate from high school because they failed any portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test, (2) analyze campus characteristics, including campus size, state and federal accountability ratings, principal longevity and teachers’ classroom experience that impact these non-graduating seniors and (3) analyze the effect of these five identified student characteristics on non-graduating seniors that prevent their high school graduation. This researcher accessed longitudinal data from the Western ISD for the 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, particularly examining those seniors that did not graduate with their classes due to TAKS failure for these three school years at ten traditional high school campuses. To investigate three guiding research questions, a cross tabs statistical report was generated to determine the total number of seniors as a function of student characteristics and multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) were run to determine whether statistically significant overall effects were present on the students’ standardized TAKS test scores as a function of the campus and student variables. It was found that higher numbers of lower socioeconomic status (SES), LEP, female, at-risk and minority students comprised the cohort of individuals that did not graduate due to failure on the TAKS when compared to the district and state averages. The performance of these students on TAKS tests was consistent with statewide trends in terms of rates of failing by content area with most students failing the math assessment, followed by the science test, English Language Arts exam and social studies test, respectively. However, the students in this cohort failed all of these assessments at significantly higher rates when compared to district and statewide averages. A statistically significant difference was found for seniors enrolled in small campuses compared to mid-size and large campuses in the Western ISD. The students attending the larger campuses had lower failure rates. The gender variable showed statistical significance in math, p .05, when combined with other factors, namely ethnicity, at-risk and economically disadvantaged. The significance level, .005, was yielded through univariate analysis. The analysis showed that the reading and social studies TAKS tests indicated significance levels of p .05 for seniors that had more experienced teachers (with more than 13 years’ experience) as only 21% of failures were reported in this category for the reading test and 30% for the social studies test. Out of 31 multivariate tests with single and a combination of variable analysis, nine univariate effect tests showed statistical significance. The low socioeconomic status (SES) variable was present in six of these effect tests, which was the greatest presence of all variables. With regard to LEP status, statistical significance was found in relation to the reading test with a significance level of .001. Seventy seven (77%) of students that failed the reading test were identified as LEP. The ethnicity variable was present in five of these effect tests, which was second only to SES. The at-risk variable appeared in four of these tests and the LEP variable was present in two of the effect tests. This researcher did not find significance in relation to the campus principal longevity and state and federal accountability variables.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Silva, Patricia, "School and student characteristics of non-graduating seniors due to failure of TAKS tests in the Western Independent School District" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3433514.