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East Texas school districts say STAAR results as expected

By Christina Lane
June 9, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Though it is not known how the state's new testing system will play into overall accountability, local and state school officials said this past week that students' scores on the first State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness were as expected.

"As compared to initial area district scores, we feel our students were prepared for the more rigorous assessment," said Nate Carman, Pine Tree ISD's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. "The retesting that will begin with ninth graders due to the cumulative score requirements presents several new challenges."

As it did with the TAAS and TAKS, the state is phasing in the passing requirements for STAAR, according to the Texas Education Agency. The number of questions students must answer correctly will increase at intervals until 2016, when the final passing requirements will be in place, the agency said.

The purpose of the extended phase-in is to provide students and educators with sufficient time to adjust to the increased rigor of the assessments and higher performance expectations, the agency said. The STAAR standards at the first phase-in level are higher than the passing standards for TAKS.

Statewide results showed ninth-grade passing rates ranged from 87 percent on the biology test to 55 percent on the English I writing test.

Locally, Pine Tree ISD showed 88 percent meeting the satisfactory performance level on algebra I, 72 percent on English reading, 58 percent on English writing, 81 percent on world geography and 93 percent on biology - the typical tests administered to freshmen. Some schools administered the algebra II, geometry and U.S. history exams to some freshmen.

Spring Hill ISD showed 79 percent of freshmen meeting the satisfactory performance level on English reading, 66 percent on English writing, 85 percent on algebra I, 93 percent on biology and 88 percent on world geography.

Longview ISD did not provide results by Saturday after first being contacted Tuesday.

Sophomores and juniors in 2011-12 took the TAKS. Students graduating in 2014 will be the last class to take TAKS.

"We are proud of the efforts and gains realized by our student," Pine Tree ISD Superintendent T.J. Farler said. "This is the result of highly qualified teaching and learning; however, this test is but one snap-shot and does not serve as a clear measure of success for all that we do in schools. The current accountability system falls short and should provide a broader scope of information, such as improving student performance for every child.

"A state accountability system should be comprehensive in nature, focus on narrowing the performance gap, and provide the data that improves performance for every child."

It is not clear how the STAAR exam will play into accountability ratings. State officials have only recently began meeting to discuss a new accountability system, and it isn't expected to be in place until the 2013-14 school year.

"They are building the airplane as we are trying to fly it," Gladewater ISD Curriculum Director Connie Player said this past week in a meeting with parents to discuss STAAR results.

However, what is known is that students must pass a certain number of STAAR tests to graduate high school. Students who are in ninth grade and who are pursuing the recommended high school program or the distinguished achievement graduation program, must, by law, meet state-adopted standards on 15 end-of-course tests, as well as pass their courses, to earn their high school diplomas. Students following the minimum graduation plan must meet state-adopted standards on 11 end-of-course tests and pass their courses to graduate.

Students who failed one or more of the STAAR tests can begin retesting in July. Students can retake the exam as many times as they choose to pass or to obtain a higher score.

"The test was new to teachers as well as to students," Gladewater High School Principal Suzie Lambert said at the parent meeting. "Our teachers worked hard, and our kids worked hard. You have dedicated teachers who work to get kids to graduate. We need to learn how to help the kids do well. They are going to help each and every child do well, and we are not going to stop until we have done everything we can do."

Statewide, 87 percent of students passed biology, 83 percent passed algebra I, 81 percent passed world geography, 68 percent passed English reading and 55 percent passed English writing.

If there had been no phase-in of standards, 46 percent of students would have passed reading, and 34 percent would have passed writing, according to the Texas Education Agency.

"While we know there is always an adjustment period for students and teachers in a new testing program, results from the first STAAR assessments are encouraging overall, showing that students generally performed as expected or better and that educators focused intensely on the state curriculum," Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said in a news release. "These results give us the opportunity to focus on subject areas that need improvement, and we will continue to work with school districts, teachers and parents to ensure we continue to improve education for Texas students."

<strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade Algebra I</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             88%        14%

Spring Hill            6%          85%        8%

Hallsville               95%        92%        27%

Kilgore  88%        76%        5%

Gladewater        87%        71%        5%

White Oak           93%        90%        19%

Henderson         10%        77%        5%

Union Grove      96%        87%        5%

<strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade English I Reading</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             72%        10%

Spring Hill            8%          79%        13%

Hallsville               86%        78%        10%

Kilgore  75%        71%5%

Gladewater        79%        67%        3%

White Oak           95%        90%        28%

Henderson         8%          67%        7%

Union Grove      80%        65%        13%

 <strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade English I Writing</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             58%        2%

Spring Hill            10%        66%        6%

Hallsville               69%        59%        2%

Kilgore  70%        55%        2%

Gladewater        62%        50%        1%

White Oak           91%        88%        10%

Henderson         13%        55%        3%

Union Grove      75%        64%        4%

<strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade Biology</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             93%        9%

Spring Hill            3%          93%        12%

Hallsville               98%        93%        7%

Kilgore  94%        85%        3%

Gladewater        93%        84%        2%

White Oak           97%        95%        11%

Henderson         7%          87%        5%

Union Grove      98%        91%        4%

<strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade World Geography</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             81%        14%

Spring Hill            3%          88%        22%

Hallsville               92%        86%        8%

Kilgore  85%        76%        6%

Gladewater        76%        66%        4%

White Oak           87%        78%        7%

Henderson         9%          77%        6%

Union Grove      91%        75%        6%

<strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade Geometry</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             100%     39%

Spring Hill            0%          100%     40%

Hallsville               100%     88%        41%

Kilgore  95%        95%        25%

Gladewater        100%     100%     25%

White Oak           100%     100%     67%

Henderson         Did not test

Union Grove      100%     100%     14%

<strong>STAAR End-of-Course: 9th grade Algebra II</strong>

District  Level I: Minimum             Level II:  Satisfactory       Level III: Advanced

Pine Tree             *             100%     67%

Spring Hill            Did not test

Hallsville               100%     100%     89%

Kilgore  Did not test

Gladewater        Did not test

White Oak           Did not test

Henderson         0%          100%     56%

Union Grove      Did not test

<em><strong>Sources:</strong> School districts</em>

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