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Preliminary STAAR results show 3-8 grade passing rates stable for 3rd straight year

From the Texas Education Agency:

AUSTIN, TX – Statewide passing rates for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) mathematics and reading tests in grades three through eight remained relatively stable for the third consecutive year, according to preliminary results released today by the Texas Education Agency. The results reflect passing rates for the spring 2014 administration of STAAR and STAAR L.

Virtually all grades (3 through 8) recorded some improvement in mathematics over results from the previous school year. Fifth and eighth graders recorded the highest passing rate at 79 percent on the first administration of the test. The largest increase from the previous school year came in grade 6 – a jump of five percentage points. Grade 7 was the only grade level where math passing rates declined from 2012–2013.

Eighty-two percent of eighth-grade students passed the STAAR reading test on their first attempt. Sixth graders recorded the largest increase (six percentage points) over results from the previous school year. However, with the exception of grade 4, all other grades showed some slight decrease from 2012–2013.

“Assessments help determine whether a student has grasped certain concepts in basic subjects over the course of the school year,” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “There are those who now step forward to argue that assessments do not measure everything occurring on a campus, in a district or with the whole child. To that point, I wholeheartedly agree. As I visit schools across our state, I am reminded of that point often. However, assessments are essential in identifying whether students require early support for basic subjects in our public education system.

“To those who are now dismissive of these same assessments, I would ask: Should we not have some level of concern at results seen after three consecutive years in subjects such as reading? As a state, I do not believe we can afford to ignore potential issues we’re seeing in the lower grades with the hope that they will simply disappear for our students in high school. These results are telling us that our students need support now.”

STAAR writing tests were administered in grades 4 and 7. Initial passing rates in each of those grades have remained stable over the past three school years. Students in fourth grade posted the highest passing rate of 73 percent – an increase of two percentage points over results from the previous school year.

In addition, fifth graders posted the highest preliminary passing rate in STAAR science (73 percent). The eighth grade passing rate in science was 70 percent. Eighth graders also posted a 61 percent passing rate in Social Studies.

“Fortunately, our state’s professional development for educators is focused on these key subjects,” said Commissioner Williams. “That holds some promise for greater success in future years. However, I continue to emphasize that STAAR is a very different assessment with much higher rigor. Those districts that cling to test preparation, fact memorization and practice tests will not see success. An emphasis on critical thinking skills while also allowing our teachers to focus on the curriculum is the quickest path to future success statewide.”

Under state law, Texas students in grades 5 and 8 must pass the STAAR reading and math tests to be promoted to the next grade. Those students who did not pass these exams had the opportunity to retake the tests in mid-May and will have another opportunity June 24–25. State law requires students who do not pass these tests to be retained in their current grade – unless a parent appeals the retention and a local, campus-based grade placement committee unanimously agrees to promote them.

Comparison charts of statewide results and summary charts provide greater detail on all STAAR results. Note that TEA does not have district-level test results at this time. Those are available from your local school districts and charters. To review state-level reports on grades 3 through 8, visit the Texas Education Agency website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/staar/rpt/sum/.

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