Tyler ISD's STAAR Outcomes Pace State
By EMILY GUEVARA
In the first year under the new standardized testing system, Tyler ISD showed gains among certain student groups in math and science but declined in English language arts performance.
TISD released results from the first year of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) at the high school course level.
Ninth-graders and seventh- and eighth-graders taking high school courses took the STAAR end-of-course exams during the 2011-12 school year.
These exams replace the state's previous testing system, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, at the high school level. Students will be required to meet standard on end-of-course exams throughout their high-school career to graduate.
TISD's African-American and economically disadvantaged students performed equal to or better than the state average on the math end-of-course assessments.
These groups have typically performed poorly in this subject area.
About 76 percent of TISD's African-American students met the performance standards on the Algebra 1 test compared with 75 percent of African-American students statewide.
Last year, 42 percent of African-American ninth-graders passed the math portion of the TAKS test compared with 56 percent statewide.
Among economically disadvantaged students, 77 percent met the standard, which matched the results statewide for this group.
Last year, 49 percent of economically disadvantaged students passed the math portion of the TAKS test compared with 62 percent statewide.
TISD Superintendent Dr. Randy Reid said the district had focused on math as a result of previous student performance and was pleased to see the positive results, according to a news release.
In science, 87 percent of students passed the biology exam matching the statewide average. Four out of six TISD subgroups performed better than the statewide average on the test, according to the news release.
However, in the typically strong area of English language arts, TISD student performance declined, mirroring the trend statewide.
Sixty-three percent of the students who took the English 1 reading exam met the standard compared with 68 percent statewide. On the English 1 writing exam, 45 percent met standard compared with 55 percent statewide.
"Our district has proven through our math and science scores that we can use our test results to identify areas that need improvement and achieve positive results," Reid said, according to the news release. "While we will not take our focus off of math and science, we will now apply the same intense scrutiny to our ELA subjects to ensure our students are college and career ready in this area."
This is the first year writing has been assessed in the ninth grade with students required to write two essays, one literary and one expository.
Kim Tunnell, TISD's executive director for curriculum and instruction, said students struggled in the expository writing area. She said the district got additional data this week and will analyze it to determine what needs to be done differently for students to perform better.
Students also took the world geography end-of-course exam with 78 percent of TISD students passing that test compared to 81 percent statewide. Students have not previously taken a test in this subject area alone before.
All students who took the geometry and algebra II tests met the standards. About 210 took the geometry test and 37 took the algebra II test.
Students who did not pass an end-of-course exam the first time will have another opportunity in July.
In English language arts specifically, students will undergo intense remediation focusing on vocabulary and expository writing. Students will have three opportunities each school year to retake the test, and they must pass end-of-course exams to graduate.