Texas STAAR results show improvement
It was feared that after another school year of COVID-19-related disruptions, scores would not improve.
Texas students’ standardized test scores in reading and math edged closer to pre-pandemic levels after falling to levels not seen in a decade the previous year, according to results released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.
Each spring, Texas students take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test. In mathematics, 40% of all students in grades 3-8 achieved grade level or above this year, an increase of 5 percentage points from the previous year. In reading, 52% of all students achieved grade level or above, representing an increase of 9 percentage points from the previous year.
“It gives you a picture of what’s happened statewide in terms of student proficiency and a lot of it is a story of recovery. It’s a story of hope,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “It’s proof that we have amazing people working in Texas public schools.”
Brian Woods, superintendent of the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, credits the return of students to their physical classrooms and the work teachers have done over the past year despite the disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19, for l increase in scores.
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“Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Woods said.
Friday’s announcement comes two weeks after the release of high school students’ results, which showed a slight improvement.
STAAR had a 98% participation rate this year among all students. Last year, STAAR exams were optional for students, and districts were not assessed based on results. This year however, scores will count and school districts will be ranked based on the results. School district accountability results are expected to be released in August.
School administrators were concerned that scores would not see much improvement over the past school year due to school disruptions caused by the delta and omicron surges. Already understaffed school districts had teachers and substitutes with COVID, prompting many districts to ask parents to fill in.
While 2021-22 scores showed improvements in math for third- through eighth-grade students, current math levels remain 10 percentage points lower than 2019 math levels. Texas had made progress success in mathematics results since 2012, when only 34% of students had reached grade level or higher.
It was different with reading, as the results for this school year surpassed those of 2019 and the last decade.
By race, Hispanics, who make up more than half of Texas’ 5.4 million public school students, also saw gains, as 44% reached grade level or above in reading, a 9-point increase percentage point increase from the previous school year and a 4 percentage point increase from 2019. In math, 34% achieved grade level or above, an increase of 8 percentage points, but still at 11 percentage points. percentage of their 2019 level.
Among black students, 25% achieved grade level or above in math, an increase of 5 percentage points from the previous year. In the same subject in 2019, 34% reached or exceeded their grade level. In reading, 40% of students reached grade level or above, an increase of 8 percentage points and an increase of 5 percentage points from 2019. Black students represent approximately 13% of all public school students in the Texas.
English language learners and special education and economically disadvantaged students also improved their reading and math scores.
In mathematics, 30% of all economically disadvantaged students reached grade level or above, an increase of 7 percentage points from the previous year. But, that’s still an 11 percentage point decrease from their 2019 scores, just before the pandemic hit.
In reading, 41% of all economically disadvantaged students achieved grade level or above, a 10 percentage point increase from the previous year and a 5 percentage point increase from 2019.
Although there have been gains for these students, a significant gap still exists between them and non-economically disadvantaged students. In mathematics, 55% of students who are not economically disadvantaged reached grade level or above. In reading, 67% reached grade level or higher.
Among English language learners, 29% achieved grade level or above in mathematics, an increase of 9 percentage points from the previous year. In reading, 31% achieved grade level or above in reading, an increase of 11 percentage points.
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For special education students, 13% achieved grade level or above in math, an increase of 1 percentage point from the previous year. In reading, 17% of these students achieved grade level or above, an increase of 5 percentage points.
Morath said the improved scores were the result of strong commitment from Texas teachers this year and help from the Texas Legislature, particularly House Bill 4545, which requires schools to provide students with 30 hours of extra time. teaching based on the number of STAAR subjects a student has failed. He also credited state-mandated teacher training called Reading Academies. Teachers who teach K-3 should take this training as part of an effort to improve student reading achievement.
Historically, Texas hasn’t been the best at catching up with students after a major school disruption. Students affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 didn’t reach state reading standards until four years after the hurricane struck, and they never did in math, according to the TEA.
In the latest national assessment of educational progress, known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” less than a third of fourth graders in Texas achieved proficiency level or above, and only a quarter of the eight students achieved a proficiency level or above.
Woods, superintendent of Northside ISD, said implementing HB 4545 has been difficult as school districts continue to struggle with staffing shortages. Once school is back with no disruption from COVID, Woods believes there will be faster improvement.
“Teachers are just going to spend more time with students,” he said. “That’s the key.”