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Local schools see slump in STAAR scores

With few exceptions, area schools saw their standardized test scores generally decline when results came back last week.

The Texas Education Agency released the preliminary results for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams students took in the spring. Local districts followed statewide trends as scores in nearly every category fell from the previous year.

Passing rates for math assessments went up in several districts and bumped up the state average. Meanwhile, rates generally dwindled when students took the reading, writing, science and social studies tests. 

"I think our kids know more than what the test measures," Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson said. "Our SAT and ACT scores continue to rise and we've seen a lot of growth from year to year. We look at these STAAR scores as formative to get students where we want them to be when they graduate."

Though passing standards weren't changed this year, the way scores were reported differed. 

In previous years, students who passed the test were labeled "satisfactory" while those who didn't were deemed "unsatisfactory." Those who exceeded expectations were considered "advanced."

This year, scores are divided into four categories: did not meet grade level, approaches grade level, meets grade level and masters grade level. Scores that "approach grade level" are considered passing for the state.

State test scores play an important role in public education across the state. They can impact teacher evaluations, accountability ratings and whether or not some students move on to the next grade. During the legislative session, state lawmakers debated how much weight should be given to standardized tests but nothing concrete ever materialized. 

"The STAAR test isn't some sort of magical disconnected aspect of school," Education Commissioner Mike Morath told The Dallas Morning News. "[Tests] are a part of life. In fact, they are very important part of the education process. If I'm a teacher, how do I know if my students are learning what I just taught?"

Parents can log onto a new portal to view their child's scores and the passing rates of their campus or school district. The website, http://texasassessment.com/, has informational videos and guides to understanding the scores.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.

In the Know

The following chart shows area school district passing rates for the spring STAAR and End-of-Course exams compared to state averages. For specific campus percentages, go to http://texasassessment.com/.

Test Argyle ISD Aubrey ISD Denton ISD Krum ISD Lake Dallas ISD Pilot Point ISD Ponder ISD Sanger ISD State
Math - Grade 3 91 88 81 70 80 74 74 78 76
Reading - Grade 3 92 89 80 72 84 75 81 80 72
Math - Grade 4 89 84 77 67 74 75 80 76 75
Reading - Grade 4 81 85 74 63 75 66 73 78 70
Writing - Grade 4 74 74 67 62 69 63 69 67 63
Math - Grade 5 99 88 87 86 78 80 79 78 81
Reading - Grade 5 89 75 78 77 77 52 73 74 71
Science - Grade 5 93 81 79 71 76 64 73 76 73
Math - Grade 6 87 89 79 84 86 78 86 87 75
Reading - Grade 6 86 85 73 67 72 64 68 77 67
Math - Grade 7 96 88 76 81 83 63 80 68 68
Reading - Grade 7 96 90 78 78 79 62 75 76 72
Writing - Grade 7 92 88 76 74 74 72 78 72 68
Math - Grade 8 87 87 80 86 83 75 95 68 74
Reading - Grade 8 91 83 82 80 83 83 78 75 76
Science - Grade 8 92 93 81 83 83 69 87 70 74
Social Studies - Grade 8 77 66 70 62 79 53 80 58 62
Algebra I - High School 97 94 85 91 88 97 80 78 82
Biology - High School 99 95 88 94 89 93 91 88 85
English I - High School 93 75 66 72 69 80 67 64 60
English II - High School 92 76 66 70 67 74 83 70 62
U.S. History - High School 99 96 93 98 93 99 93 94 92