Area districts receive STAAR results

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Officials with area school districts say they’re pleased with student results on last spring’s STAAR exams.

Many districts in the region either have presented or soon will present to their school boards results from the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), which students took last spring, officials said.Individual results are being sent home with report cards.

The passing percentages on the exams and passing standards were released by the state last month.

STAAR results for Argyle, Aubrey, Krum, Lake Dallas, Pilot Point, Ponder and Sanger show students exceeded the state passing percentage on a majority of exams taken by students in the third through eighth grades. Of the 17 STAAR exams given in grades three through eight, all seven districts exceeded the state’s passing percentage on nine tests.

Area districts attributed the favorable STAAR results to the hard work of district staff and the curricula taught in the classroom.

Students from all seven districts performed best on the eighth-grade math exam, where their passing percentages were 10 points or more higher than the state passing rate.

The Texas Education Agency has reported that more than 70 percent of students passed each test in grades three through eight with three exceptions: 68 percent of Texas third- and fourth-graders passed the math test and 59 percent of eighth-graders passed in social studies.

Results in grades three through eight from Argyle, Krum, Pilot Point and Ponder indicated there were some exams where student performance fell below the state percentage last spring. They included: third-grade reading, 63 percent of Pilot Point students passed the exam; fourth-grade math, 66 percent of Argyle students passed the exam, 64 percent of Ponder students passed and 60 percent of Pilot Point students passed the test; fourth-grade writing, 63 percent of Pilot Point students passed the exam and 70 percent of Sanger students passed the test; in fifth-grade reading, 69 percent of Pilot Point students passed the exam; and in eighth-grade social studies, 58 percent of Krum students passed the exam.

Students from Argyle and Pilot Point exceeded the state percentage of those passing the Algebra II end-of-course exams. Aubrey, Krum and Pilot Point students exceeded the state passing percentage by more than 14 percentage points on the physics end-of-course exams, according to STAAR results shared by each district. On English II reading and writing exams, the percentage of Lake Dallas students passing was above the state percentage, as it was among Aubrey students taking the world history and U.S. history end-of-course exams.

A majority of the seven school districts also exceeded the state passing percentages on the geometry, chemistry, English I reading and writing and world geography end-of-course exams.

Students taking end-of-course exams had two opportunities to retake exams last summer and last semester. State officials say the cumulative percentage of students passing the end-of-course exams improved after two retakes.

For the first effort on the end-of-course exams, Telena Wright, Argyle superintendent, said students “showed good results.” Students who didn’t perform well on the exam were offered accelerated classes last summer, she said, and the district saw a definite increase in the number of students improving on exam retakes.

The STAAR test, which was first administered in the spring of 2012, replaces the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), which has served as the state’s standardized test since 2003. Students are tested in grades three through eight, and high school students take 15 course-specific assessments, known as end-of-course exams, which they must pass — even if they have to retake it — to graduate. Students currently in their junior year of high school will graduate under the TAKS exam, which is being phased out next school year.

Passing standards on the STAAR exam include three categories: Level I, or unsatisfactory academic performance, which represents a student’s performance that’s below passing; Level II, or satisfactory performance, which indicates a student passed or met the standard; and Level III, which represents advanced performance on the exam.

Officials with area districts say that while they’re pleased with their students’ performance on the STAAR exam last spring, there’s still room for improvement before the next round of STAAR exams begins. They say they’re using STAAR results from last spring to prepare for the upcoming round of tests.

“We’re never happy until we have 100 percent passing all areas, but for the first time out with the STAAR test, we feel like it gives us a good place to benchmark where we are and improve as we move forward,” Ponder Superintendent Bruce Yeager said.

Moving forward, Jackie McBroom, assistant superintendent for the Sanger school district, said the district is using STAAR results as “baseline data.”

Officials in Argyle, Aubrey, Pilot Point and Sanger said they’re offering tutorials and making other adjustments to assist students whose exam results indicate they might need additional help.

Tutorials have increased from one day a week after school to two at the middle school in Pilot Point, Superintendent Glenn Barber said. He said he believes a recent literacy grant the district received also will have some impact on improving English/language arts scores during the next STAAR exams.

Debby Sanders, deputy superintendent for the Aubrey school district, said the district has analyzed STAAR data and is looking for “holes” in student achievement where they might need improvement. She said they’re also using the data to help teachers in educating students in particular grade levels.

STAAR assessments for this school year begin within the next couple of months.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com .


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