“We are always looking for ways to improve our district,” remarked Superintendent Ty Sparks, “but TAKS is only one component that we use to evaluate our district, not the sole component.” Sparks went on to add that the district looks at attendance, passing rates, SAT/ACT scores, dropout rates and more to look at the big picture for the district.
In comparing the TAKS results with the state scores, GWISD performed equal to or better than the state in 19 areas. Combining results of TAKS reading/writing/ELA, GW students exceeded state standards in eight of the eleven areas. Fourth grade Writing was only one point below the state average. Mathematics scores were mixed with five of the grades tested exceeding state standards. Math scores in four grades are below the state standards, but are well within reach of meeting the goal. The school district has planned staff development to improve instruction in the classroom which will directly impact student learning and score results.
Science scores reflect that GW exceeded the state standard in three of the four grades tested. Social studies results showed all three grades tested exceeded standards set by the state including high school exit level (11th grade) which had a 100% passing rate.
Overall, scores were up compared to last year’s results. When district administrators compared 2009 scores to the previous year’s scores of 2008, there was improvement in 20 out of 27 test areas.
Another measurement that the State considers is how many students scored at a “Commended Performance” level which occurs when a student scores significantly above the minimum passing standard. In order to pass a TAKS exam, a student must score a 2100. If a student scores 2400 or above, that is considered to be “Commended Performance” for that student. The percentage of GW students scoring 2400 or above exceeded the state standard in 12 areas tested. Significantly, 38% of GW 8th grade science students reached “Commended Performance” compared to the State’s 24%. The 3rd grade students stunned district administrators by reaching a record setting level of “Commended Performance”. In TAKS Reading, 73% of GW 3rd graders reached “Commended Performance” compared to the State’s 42%. Additionally, 62% of GW 3rd graders reached the same goal as compared to the state’s 37%.
Superintendent Sparks was pleased with the “Commended Performance” results. He recognized that students were pushing themselves to do their best on the test.
“Just passing isn’t enough for some of our students. They want to be sure that they meet the “Commended Performance” standard. It’s a personal goal for them,” Sparks commented.
He added that he was pleased with the teacher motivation that challenged students to set high goals for themselves. “Our staff works incredibly hard to prepare students for this assessment, but TAKS is not our only requirement throughout the year. Teachers do a great job balancing TAKS with other things that students need to learn that are not tested including study habits, character education, and activities that build student confidence.”