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Primary STAAR results lackluster
by Bill Clough
Feb 15, 2013 | 1571 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — In three days, at their regular meeting Feb. 19, Beeville Independent School District trustees will get their first official look at how well BISD students fared on the STAAR tests.

Taken by themselves, the results are disappointing.

Beeville students failed to meet passing standards in almost all subjects in the first round of the state’s mandated performance tests.

The Texas Education Agency released preliminary results late last month for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams administered last spring.

The STAAR regimen is comprised of 15 core-subject exams.

The results are deemed preliminary because the scores are being phased in over the next four years.

In almost all cases, BISD scores were lower than the state average and also below those at George West, Tuloso-Midway, Three Rivers, Skidmore-Tynan and Pettus.

The worst scores were in fifth-grade science and eighth-grade math.

“We didn’t do well,” says BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas, who adds to measure her district strictly by the STAAR scores is unfair.

“We have good schools; we have good teachers,” she stresses. “We have some pockets in there where we did really well.”

The results, she points out, are “not going to be used against us from an accountability standpoint until next year’s tests.”

Thomas says the first round of tests were beneficial because both students and teachers learned from it.

“I predict our scores will improve because both teachers and students are learning how to prepare for the test,” she says.

Although Thomas urges parents who are interested in the tests results to attend the board meeting at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, she doesn’t expect a large turnout.

The release of the scores is concurrent with a statewide backlash against the STAAR system, which now is the focus of pending legislation in Austin.

Lawmakers have filed hundreds of bills concerning education in general and the STAAR system in particular.

Some are calling for the number of tests required for graduation to be drastically reduced; others are calling for a moratorium on all STAAR testing.

Last Wednesday, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams told the Texas House Public Education Committee that by the end of the session, “it won’t be 15 tests,” but added, “I hope it’s not two or three.”

In releasing the preliminary results Jan. 29, Williams noted that in some cases statewide, the passing rate for specific subjects jumped by more than 10 percent after students who failed the tests retook them.

“The improvement…is directly attributable to the hard work of students and educators across our state,” he said.

Thomas will address BISD teachers today about the scores during what she calls a “state-of-the-district” report.

“We want accountability,” Thomas says, “but it should be based on student progress. In the third grade, for instance, some kids may be behind. But, we catch them up. That’s what I would like to see accountability based on.

“I think we will see much improvement for this year. It is important to remember that these scores… are one year old. Our teachers knew last year after testing that we needed to make dramatic changes. We have been working on those needed changes since August. We did very well in some areas that measure college readiness.”

The results (percentage of students who achieved a passing grade) were:

Grade 3 Reading

State level: 76

Beeville: 69

Grade 3 Math

State level: 68

Beeville: 51

Grade 4 Reading

State level: 77

Beeville: 71

Grade 4 Math

State level: 68

Beeville: 58

Grade 4 Writing

State level: 71

Beeville: 66

Grade 5 Reading

State level: 77

Beeville: 69

Grade 5 Math

State level: 77

Beeville: 69

Grade 5 Science

State level: 73

Beeville: 52

Grade 6 Reading

State level: 75

Beeville: 66

Grade 6 Math

State level: 77

Beeville: 66

Grade 7 Reading

State level: 76

Beeville: 68

Grade 7 Math

State level: 71

Beeville: 52

Grade 7 Writing

State level: 71

Beeville: 68

Grade 8 Reading

State level: 80

Beeville: 70

Grade 8 Math

State level: 76

Beeville: 53

Grade 8 Science

State level: 70

Beeville: 54

Grade 8 Soc Studies

State level: 59

Beeville: 47

Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.
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