TAKS season a certainty for students in ’03; Renamed TAAS II tested TEA creativity

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

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Let the silly puns begin.

After months of contemplation, state education officials have quietly settled on the name of the standardized test that will replace the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, or TAAS, in 2003.

And the winner is…the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. That’s TAKS, as in “tax” or “tacks.”

“People are going to hear ‘TAKS’ and think of either giving money to the government or those sharp, pointy things that hurt when you step on them,” said Mike Carr, director of Namestormers, an Austin-based brand consulting firm.

“The kids, in particular, I’m sure will pick up on the sharp-pointy-object idea.”

TAKS is the Test Formerly Known as TAAS II. The next-generation test will be linked to a tougher set of curriculum standards – the similarly acronymed TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

It took months to come up with the name, said Adrienne Sobolak, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency. TEA employees were asked to suggest ideas, which a group of top agency officials narrowed to two finalists: TAKS and TASK, the Texas Assessment of Skills and Knowledge.

In the end, officials decided that “skills and knowledge” would be confusing because Texas was already on record as promoting “knowledge and skills” in the TEKS, Ms. Sobolak said.

If anyone has a reason to be upset by the new test name, it’s the group that, until Monday, was the biggest TAKS around: The American Keeshond Society, a 24-year-old group dedicated to the breed of dog.

“People looking for information about the test on the Internet might find us, and the other way around, but people will figure it out,” said group secretary Sharon Buethner, who lives with her seven keeshonden – Ethan, Jody, Boppers, Jenny, Patty, Britta and Martin – in Fargo, N.D.