staar

Standardized tests scores were a mixed bag this year for Denton area schools, and some officials worry testing glitches might have negatively impacted some performance.

The Texas Education Agency recently released scores for third- through eighth-graders who took the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests this spring.

Students were tested in subjects like math, reading, writing, science and social studies.

Compared to last year’s numbers, passing rates fluctuated in most districts. Some surged while others dwindled.

Out of the eight districts in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s coverage area — Argyle, Aubrey, Denton, Krum, Lake Dallas, Pilot Point, Ponder and Sanger — half saw their social studies passing rates rise for eighth grade. Science and math saw improvement on 56.3 percent of the tests administered in those subjects. Reading saw the largest jump with 58.3 percent of its tests showing higher passing rates.

Students seemed to struggle the most with the writing test taken in fourth and seventh grades. Of the 16 tests given to those students in the eight local districts, passing rates declined on 10 of them.

2018 STAAR Passing Rates

Subject Argyle ISD Aubrey ISD Denton ISD Krum ISD Lake Dallas ISD Pilot Point ISD Ponder ISD Sanger ISD State Average
3rd Reading 92% 90% 82% 77% 80% 73% 82% 75% 76%
3rd Math 93% 88% 80% 67% 76% 74% 87% 68% 77%
4th Reading 92% 82% 77% 80% 83% 71% 79% 70% 72%
4th Math 94% 89% 82% 83% 85% 80% 77% 75% 78%
4th Writing 84% 68% 67% 57% 67% 67% 45% 54% 61%
5th Reading 94% 82% 84% 74% 84% 66% 71% 80% 78%
5th Math 98% 91% 89% 83% 77% 89% 81% 81% 84%
5th Science 96% 83% 78% 63% 74% 58% 82% 79% 75%
6th Reading 85% 76% 73% 70% 71% 56% 73% 71% 66%
6th Math 93% 89% 79% 83% 86% 76% 92% 92% 76%
7th Reading 89% 84% 79% 69% 74% 77% 73% 84% 72%
7th Math 91% 82% 77% 70% 87% 83% 85% 84% 71%
7th Writing 88% 84% 74% 67% 72% 77% 78% 75% 67%
8th Reading 98% 88% 82% 84% 87% 76% 88% 81% 76%
8th Math 95% 94% 83% 78% 88% 74% 93% 83% 78%
8th Science 96% 94% 79% 75% 84% 75% 85% 80% 74%
8th Social Studies 91% 71% 69% 58% 73% 46% 81% 68% 64%

The spread widens when looking at individual districts. Sanger ISD showed gains on 12 of the 17 tests its students took, while Krum ISD improved on only five of its 17. In Sanger, middle school passing rates improved in every subject.

“Our middle school really put a plan together to review the data and that worked out well,” Sanger Superintendent Sandra McCoy-Jackson said. “Our scores overall are solid, but we’re working to close the gaps.”

Despite individual improvement from last year, five districts — Krum, Lake Dallas, Pilot Point, Ponder and Sanger — recorded passing rates lower than the state average in multiple subjects.

Populations that traditionally struggle with test taking made some strides in several districts.

In Denton ISD, a district that serves sizable populations of economically disadvantaged and English as a Second Language students, passing rates for those groups outpaced the general population.

Denton kids on free and reduced lunches posted higher scores on 70.5 percent of their tests, while ESL kids scored higher on 76.5 percent of their tests.

“We’re very pleased with our scores,” said Argyle Superintendent Telena Wright, whose district posted the highest scores in the area. “But we’re disturbed by the online testing situation that occurred in the spring.”

The situation Wright is referring to occurred when thousands of students who took the STAAR test online experienced computer glitches on test day. Some kids were kicked out of the program in the middle of the test. Others had trouble logging on.

State officials estimated more than 100,000 students were affected by the technical issues. In Argyle, many of those students had special needs.

“Our special education population was severely impacted to the point where a lot of scores were invalid,” she said.

STAAR scores play a major role in the evaluation of students and their schools. Test scores can determine if a child will go into remedial classes, lose electives or get held back a grade. Those same scores are used in district and school ratings that will come in August.

State Education Commissioner Mike Morath said scores that were impacted by the glitches will be thrown out if they bring down a school’s rating. He also fined Educational Testing Services, the company that administers the STAAR test, $100,000 in damages for the errors.

“We’re working pretty furiously to prevent this sort of thing in the future,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “We had the high-water mark [in 2017]. We want to return to that next year.”

To look up scores for individual campuses, go to www.texasassessment.com and click on “Analytic Portal.”

Recommended for you