In the first batch of standardized test scores released by the Texas Education Agency, Denton County fared better overall this year when it came to math and reading at the fifth- and eighth-grade levels.
While all students ranging from third grade to high school take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams, scores for fifth and eighth grades are especially crucial. They can determine whether a child needs to take remedial classes, go to summer school or be held back a year.
Denton County 2018 STAAR scores
|LAKE DALLAS ISD|
|PILOT POINT ISD|
Math once again proved to be the easier subject this year as those passing rates came in higher than the reading counterparts.
Generally, districts that saw passing rates decline saw a difference of a few percentage points. Five districts — Krum, Lake Dallas, Pilot Point, Ponder and Sanger — reported passing rates below state averages in certain categories. In Denton ISD, passing rates rose in every category except eighth-grade reading, which stayed constant from the previous year at 82 percent. In other parts of the county, Aubrey and Sanger ISDs saw passing rates increase in each category.
When looking at student populations that traditionally struggle on tests, such as economically disadvantaged kids or English-language learners, test scores typically fell in line with the general population. If passing rates went up or down in a certain subject area, the scores for special populations followed suit.
A few notable jumps in passing rates include Ponder ISD eighth-graders who are considered economically disadvantaged. Those students brought up their reading scores by 25 percentage points — from 57 percent in 2017 to 82 percent in 2018.
Up the road in Krum, eighth-grade English-language learners more than doubled their reading passing rates from 22 percent in 2017 to 57 percent in 2018.
But this year’s STAAR results come with a few caveats.
The STAAR test has been a popular target for schools and parents who want a reduction in standardized testing, but it came under added fire this year after computer glitches affected thousands of students who take the test online.
Mike Morath, the state’s commissioner of education, threw out 71,000 test results and said schools could waive the grade promotion requirement for kids who were affected by the server issues. He also levied a $100,000 fine on the state’s vendor, Educational Testing Services, which has administered the test for the last three years and has already paid millions for previous STAAR glitches.
“We cannot allow technical disruptions during testing,” Morath said in a prepared statement reported by The Dallas Morning News. “We are committed to providing a positive assessment experience for our districts and students.”
Additionally, Morath said this year’s affected scores won’t be used in the state’s new A-F accountability ratings unless the scores boost a district’s grade. This is the first year districts will be graded under the letter system, which relies heavily on STAAR test data.
TEA is expected to publicly release more STAAR scores next month, while accountability ratings should be handed down in August.
To view current STAAR scores for a specific campus, go to https://texasassessment.com/educators and click on “Analytic Portal.”