However, the district’s performance mirrored the state’s when it came to trends in several areas such as eighth-graders having the highest passing rates in reading and math, and social studies having the lowest passing rate.
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, introduced in spring 2012, replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) and is a more rigorous testing program, according to the Texas Education Agency website.
The tests are designed to measure a student’s preparedness for the next grade level or course as well as their college and career readiness starting in elementary school, according to the state agency and TISD.
TISD eighth-graders had the highest passing percentages in reading and math at 77 percent and 74 percent, respectively.
In writing, 70 percent of TISD’s tested seventh-graders passed and 63 percent of fourth-graders passed.
In science, 63 percent of fifth-graders and 63 percent of eighth-graders passed the test.
Social studies saw the lowest passing percentage at 51 percent. Only eighth-graders took that test.
Overall for TISD, the strongest performance came in reading, with all grade levels at 70 percent or above except sixth-graders at 69 percent.
This data provided the first opportunity for school districts to see how many of their students passed the tests.
“While we know we have more work to do, we are pleased to be in the range of the state scores,” TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring said, according to a school district news release.
Kim Tunnell, TISD’s executive director of strategic planning and continuous improvement, said the district continues to work on increasing the level of rigor in instruction to ensure the success of all students, according to the news release.
Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams offered some explanation for the low social studies passing rate statewide (59 percent).
He attributed it to the inclusion of new content on the test and the use of more primary sources in questions when compared with the state’s previous test, according to a Texas Education Agency news release.
“I recognize there has been a lot of anxiety surrounding STAAR tests, but I believe these are encouraging passing rates for the first year of a new more rigorous test,” Williams said of the statewide results, according to the news release. “Clearly, we still have work to do, but I remain optimistic that passing rates will rise this spring in the second administration of STAAR, just as they have traditionally done in the second year of a new testing program.”
The state is phasing in the passing standards for all STAAR tests meaning they will gradually increase over the next four years. This allows school districts time to adjust instruction, provide additional training for teachers and close the knowledge gaps, according to the TEA website.