Trustees, during their regular meeting Tuesday evening, listened as Nancy Jones, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, went grade by grade and test by test through the scores.
Of the 27 test results released Tuesday evening, 16 saw increases, 10 saw decreases and one remained the same. She, however, didn’t offer a prediction as to whether these scores would improve the district’s “academically unacceptable” rating.
Ninth-grade reading, she said, went from 80 percent passing in 2009 to 86 percent this year. That is still 6 percent lower than this year’s state average.
“Fifth-grade reading made a big jump from 84 percent to 90 percent which is higher than the state average,” she said.
Eleventh-grade students taking the math portion increased their scores to 85 percent this year — an increase of 9 percent compared to last year.
In writing, seventh-grade youngsters brought their percentage up a point to 94 percent — just one point behind the state average.
Eleventh-grade students taking the science test also passed at a higher rate than last year. Eighty-six percent of them passed compared to 81 percent in 2009. State average was 91 percent.
Jones reminded that in some cases where the scores went down, it wasn’t by much. She pointed to the 11th-grade social studies results saying, “97 percent to 96 percent, that is not an increase but it is still very high.”
Jones told trustees that next year is the last year for the TAKS test.
“Whatever accountability rating you have for next year you hold onto for two years,” she said.
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, will replace the TAKS, which is the criterion-reference assessment program that has been in place since 2003.
According to the Texas Education Agency, The STAAR will be used for the 12 end-of-course assessments and the new grade 3-8 assessments.
The new tests will be used beginning in the 2011-12 school year. Students in the graduating class of 2015, who are currently in seventh grade, will be the first students who must meet the end-of-course testing requirements, as well as pass their classes, in order to earn a diploma.
“The new tests will be significantly more rigorous than previous tests and will measure a child’s performance, as well as academic growth,” according to a TEA news release. “The grade 3-8 STAAR tests in reading and mathematics, by law, must be linked from grade to grade to performance expectations for the English III and Algebra II end-of-course assessments.”
In other news, trustees made Erasmo Rodriguez interim superintendent until someone is hired to replace Dr. John Hardwick Jr., who retired from the district. The trustees have announced that Dr. Sue Thomas is the lone candidate for the position but must wait until the end of the month to make a formal offer.
Trustee Tom Beasley, during the meeting, also recommended that the high school implement a financial training class along with their regular instruction.
“I would like to see the high school have some type of practical financial skills class,” he said, citing examples of how to open a checking account or transfer a car title. “It could be combined into an existing course like math.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.