Most seniors have graduated and are working summer jobs and preparing for college, but some who have yet to pass state-mandated exit-level tests are still in school, hoping to pass the exams in July and earn their diplomas.
Students in the Fort Worth district began TAKS preparation classes Tuesday.
Robert Sevier, Fort Worth's summer coordinator for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills retakes, said the classes are not just about academics.
"We try to sell them on the mental set, to be positive and be upbeat," Sevier said.
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The classes are designed for juniors and seniors who failed exit-level TAKS tests during the school year.
The retests are scheduled for July 11-14.
The Fort Worth tutoring program, which runs four days a week through July 7, features 31 teachers on three campuses tutoring some 300 students, including 191 seniors who did not graduate in spring.
Though the state sets the dates for TAKS testing, "as far as preparation for the retake, it's up to the local districts what they offer for their local kids," said DeEtta Culbertson, a Texas Education Agency spokeswoman.
Statewide, 8 percent of the 2011 senior class still has to pass some portion of the TAKS, and 16 percent of juniors failed their first shot at the exit-level exams.
The Arlington district has 150 seniors who still need to pass the TAKS to graduate. Birdville has 62, Crowley 43, Keller 23, Hurst-Euless-Bedford 20 and Grapevine-Colleyville three.
Those districts are also offering tutoring to those students.
Arlington officials said the number of seniors having to retake TAKS tests dropped 29 percent from last year.
"What that says to me is that the schools throughout the year are very closely tracking these students who are having trouble with the TAKS and are working with them," Arlington district spokeswoman Amy Casas said.
TAKS retests can be daunting, Sevier said. Many of the students have failed TAKS tests four or five times before arriving at summer tutoring.
"The sad thing is, some of the kids have real trouble with test-taking skills and reading skills," Sevier said.
Students study in groups of 10 to 12 during the 21/2-hour classes in math, science, social studies and English language arts at Western Hills, Wyatt and Polytechnic high schools.
Most summer tutoring students pass their TAKS exams, Sevier said, and there's still hope for those who don't.
"If they failed with a real low score, they will definitely improve a lot and be ready to pass the next time," Sevier said. "The others that are close, we get them over the hump."
Fort Worth seniors who have completed all their course work and pass exit-level exams during the summer will graduate during the district's August commencement for TAKS graduates.
Seeing the rainbow colors of graduates' home-campus caps and gowns, and their proud faces, is Sevier's inspiration.
"My favorite thing about it is the intensity of the students' emotions," he said. "It makes you know everything you're doing is all worthwhile."
Staff writers Eva-Marie Ayala, Jessamy Brown and Sandra Engelland contributed to this report.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657