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Crunching the numbers Both HCISD and San Marcos CISD fth grade students showed signif- icant improvement in their reading STAAR tests, with 2022 results sur- passing 2019 results based on the “approaches grade level” performance standards outlined by the Texas Edu- cation Agency. However, the biggest weak spot both districts noticed is in math. “Our math scores, honestly, they are lagging behind our reading scores. [In] math, we did not make as many gains as we did [in] reading,” SMCISD Chief Academic Ocer Ter- rence Sanders said. In 2019, 83% of HCISD students approached grade level in fth grade math. Those results dipped to 71% in 2021 and marginally increased to 76% in 2022. In the same subject, 78% of SMCISD students approached grade level in fth grade math in 2019. 2021 saw a drop to 55% with an increase to 63% in 2022. While both districts improved upon 2021 scores in 2022, neither scores RECOVER STAAR test scores show that, following a decline in performance in 20-2021, the 2021-22 scores have improved following the COVID-19 pandemic. Grade 3-8 reading and math results reect an improvement nearing pre-pandemic levels. The “approached” standard also includes those who “met” and “mastered” the subject.
BREAKDOWN Report card These are the performance categories given by the Texas Education Agency for STAAR tests. MASTERS Students are expected to succeed in the next grade or course with little to no academic help MEETS Students are highly likely to succeed in the next grade or course but may need some short-term or targeted
PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS APPROACHING GRADE LEVEL
academic help APPROACHES
3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
Students are likely to succeed in the next grade or course with targeted
academic help DID NOT MEET
system called DecisionEd that stores districtwide data in one place, Sand- ers said. “We focus so much on achievement data … but we cannot lose sight of the other data that impacts achievement such as attendance data. We also have to make sure that we look at resource data because if we don’t have teachers in classrooms, then kids are not going to learn,” he said. One of the biggest hurdles the dis- tricts face is the disparity of knowl- edge in one classroom, McDaniel said, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. “As a fth grade teacher, there were kids in my room who were on a third grade level, who were on a fourth grade level, a fth grade level, a sixth grade level,” McDaniel said. “The range of student knowledge in your classrooms was greater than anything we had ever faced before. We always had some range, but the pandemic made it extremely broad.” To combat that array of education levels within one classroom, blended learning and adaptive programs were
exceeded or matched 2019 scores. Despite the STAAR scores still not fully recovered, HCISD Director of Accountability & Testing Kevin Malandruccolo said it is still bene- cial to have data the district can use to help identify learning gaps so it can meet the needs of students. Students in seats McDaniel and Sanders both attributed the rise in STAAR test scores from 2021-22 to students returning to the classrooms. “It’s the lack of feedback that stu- dents receive when they are not in school. It is hard for me, as a teacher, to provide feedback and guidance when your work is done digitally,” McDaniel said. “We really got into a groove after spring break when omi- cron had calmed down a little bit and teachers were able to provide that feedback … and you saw that growth.” Despite the return to in-person instruction, both districts continue to use technology to further identify gaps in learning and knowledge. SMCISD purchased a new software
Students are unlikely to succeed without signicant and ongoing academic help
SOURCE: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Despite the rocky start after winter break when HCISD asked parents to substitute in classes due to a rise in cases and sta absences, teachers and students returned after spring break and put in the work that gen- erated better STAAR test results than the previous year, McDaniel said. “During the pandemic, a lot of the hands-on instruction that is required with math was lost,” he said.
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