The Austin Independent School District saw minimal gains on this year’s STAAR tests compared to last year.
Reading, math, science and social studies passage rates each increased by three percentage points from the previous year. Students showed the best results in reading with 79 percent passing in all demographics – including racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged.
Writing exam results did not change from 2012.
This is the second year of STAAR exams so the Texas Education Agency is scoring tests at a lower standard as students and teachers continue to get used to the new tests.
The standards will change in 2016. If students today were held to standards they will be held to in 2016, just 28 percent of students would have passed the social studies exam and only 35 percent would have passed the writing exam.
"The district believes reporting the results for the phase-in and final standards is important so that parents, students, and teachers can see what will be expected in the final implementation of the STAAR," Bill Caritj, AISD chief performance officer, said in a statement from the district. "While our students are doing well at the current standard, the district will continually need to improve each year for our students to reach the final state standards."
The district will release results from specific Austin schools in August.
Writing results did not improve in AISD and were also the biggest challenge for students across the state – with 54 percent passing. The TEA says the STAAR writing portion is more intensive than the previous TAKS test. The STAAR writing exam requires expository and persuasive essays that the TEA says are useful for college and work environments.
“Good writing is critical for success in college and in the workforce, and the lagging performance in writing corresponds with what we’ve been hearing from higher education and from employers,” Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a press release. “By continuing to shine the light on writing performance, I’m optimistic that we can graduate students who are better communicators.”
In order for students in grades 5 and 8 to continue on to the next grade, they must pass STAAR reading and math tests. In May, 87 percent of fifth graders passed the reading and math tests. For eighth-graders, 89 percent passed the reading test and 86 percent passed the math test.
Students who did not pass will have another chance on June 25 and 26th to take the exams.