Results released last week from the spring 2023 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) for grades 3-8 showed some progress made by local school districts as they try to regain pre-pandemic proficiency in reading-language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
Statewide, results for students in grades 3-8 remained mostly unchanged, but there was promising results for most of the grade levels on the mathematics portion of the test, even as Texas Education Agency official noted “significant effects of the (COVID-19) pandemic still linger.”
“Teachers across Texas continue to work with passion and skill to help students learn,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “This year’s results show the efforts of our educators continue to deliver improved results for students.”
Much like in the end-of-course results reported in the Aug. 10 edition of the Inquirer, the results for grade levels 3-8 place students in one of four categories based upon performance — Did Not Meet, Approaches, Meets and Masters.
While students at all grade levels are tested in reading-language arts and math, only students in fifth in eighth grades take the science test, while only those in eighth grade take the social studies exam.
Test scores for Gonzales ISD in reading-language arts improved at all levels but one — fourth grade, where the number of students who scored as Did Not Meet went up from 31 percent to 38 percent. However, there was a fantastic 10 percent drop in the third grade for those who Did Not Meet as the number lowered from 30 percent to 20 percent.
Fourth grade math was the lone sore thumb among math scores as the number of those who did not meet increased from 35 percent to 42 percent. Again, however, the third grade scored exceptionally well, improving from 37 percent Did Not Meet to just 24 percent in 2023.
Fifth grade science was also a spot where the numbers of those who Did Not Meet standards went up from 43 percent to 59 percent. However, all other scores for Gonzales ISD showed positive needle movement.
“GISD students showed academic growth in the majority of the tested areas for grades 3-8 in ELAR, Math, Science, and Social Studies,” GISD Superintendent Dr. Elmer Avellenada said. “With the high demand of the STAAR redesign this year, these academic gains are attributed to the hard work and collaboration of the teachers, the campus leaders, and most importantly, the students. Continued growth for all students in all subject areas is expected in the 23-24 academic school year.”
Test scores for Nixon-Smiley CISD in reading-language arts improved at three levels and stayed the same at one. However, at the fifth grade level, the number of students who scored as Did Not Meet went up from 22 percent to 24 percent while at seventh grade, the number went up from 18 percent to 28 percent. Much like GISD, however, there was a fantastic drop in the third grade for those who Did Not Meet as the number lowered from 21 percent to 13 percent, while sixth grade saw an improvement from 36 percent to 28 percent not meeting standards.
Fifth grade math and seventh grade math saw the number of those who did not meet increased from 25 percent to 27 percent and from 49 percent to 68 percent, respectively. Again, the third grade scored exceptionally well, improving from 25 percent Did Not Meet to just 11 percent in 2023, while the sixth grade saw an incredible 20 point drop from 44 percent to 24 percent.
Scores in science worsened for both fifth grade and eighth grade for Nixon-Smiley CISD as a lower percent of students met the necessary requirements. Similarly, there is room for improvement in social studies as the number of students not meeting requirements went up from 23 percent to 52 percent.
“Nixon-Smiley CISD is very proud of the hard work that both the staff and students put in so that they could achieve success on the newly designed STAAR tests,” Superintendent Jeff Van Auken said. “The staff spent many hours breaking down the areas of academic strengths and deficiencies which allowed them the opportunity to best prepare our students for the tests. Although we have some work to do, we are very pleased with our continued improvement on the state assessments, which is a direct reflection of the students and staff’s commitment to academic excellence!”
Test scores for Waelder ISD in reading-language arts showed room for improvement at the third, sixth and seventh grade levels. The number of students who scored as Did Not Meet in third grade went up from 36 percent to 62 percent, while in sixth grade, the number went up from 50 percent to 56 percent while seventh grade rose from 38 to 50 percent. There was significant improvement however in the other three grade levels. Fourth grade improved from 59 percent to 42 percent not meeting standard, while fifth grade had a drop from 67 percent to 48 percent. Eighth grade dropped from 31 percent not meeting to just 22 percent.
Math proved to be problematic for the youngest two grades (3-4) as well as for seventh grade. Of those, the fourth grade had the biggest increase in Did Not Meet as the number jumped from 55 percent to 92 percent. The number of seventh graders rose from 48 percent to 67 percent not meeting the standard. This was offset by excellent grains in fifth, sixth and eighth grade with drops of 57 to 35, 45 to 33 and 59 to 30, respectively.
Science was a bright spot for Waelder ISD as scores for fifth grade improved from 86 percent Did Not Meet to 65 percent, while eighth grade saw that amount drop from 47 percent to 40 percent. Meanwhile, eighth graders improved by 10 points in science going from 54 percent Did Not Meet to 44 percent.
“In Waelder, we saw some stability in the 8th grade Reading and Math, and scores were generally good in Science and Social Studies,” Superintendent Ron Lilie said. “We are still seeing some foundational issues and residual pandemic effects in 3rd grade reading and 3rd and 4th grade Math that we are addressing through increased study time blocks and intervention programs, which we believe will yield improvement as these students progress through the grade levels.”