Latest STAAR test results plagued by low scores

STAAR

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The most recent STAAR results show the lowest scoring yet on at least one test.

Eighty-five percent of students who took the fall exam failed the English I Writing test. It was the highest rate of failure on that particular test since STAAR testing began.

In spite of that, the Texas Education Agency announced today that approximately 309,000 students in the Class of 2015 have taken all or most of the end-of-course (EOC) assessments required for graduation. They say 76 percent of students who are currently in their junior year of high school have already passed the assessments they have taken.

That leaves 75,000 students still waiting to pass what they need to graduate.

This is the first set of results released since lawmakers lowered the number of tests required to graduate from 15 to five.

“We should be proud that the majority of high school students in Texas continue to successfully complete the end-of-course assessments now required for graduation,” said Education Commissioner Michael Williams. “With fewer assessments and greater flexibility provided to school districts under House Bill 5, Texans should expect those numbers to continue to improve.”

Current highlights for students in the Class of 2015 include:

  • There are approximately 309,000 students who have taken all or most of the EOC assessments required for graduation.
  • Of the 24 percent of the students who have not passed all tests taken, about 43 percent of those need to successfully complete only one more assessment.
  • There are about 224,000 students who have taken Algebra I, biology, English I, and English II with only U.S. history remaining. Students typically take this history course during their junior year.

HB 5 combined the English reading and writing tests into one assessment. The statute allows a transition for students who have already taken one or more of the earlier exams.

  • Under the transition rule, students who earn a combined scale score of 3750 on the English I reading and writing tests or on the English II reading and writing tests are credited with passing the exams.
  • Since spring 2012, there are 44,350 students who did not pass both English I reading and writing but passed via the commissioner’s HB 5 transition rules.
  • There are 34,547 students who did not pass both English II reading and writing but passed via the commissioner’s HB 5 transition rules.

Beginning in May, there will be a combined reading and writing exam.

According to TEA, for the December 2013 STAAR EOC administration, which largely involved re-testers, passing rates were as follows:

  • U.S. history – 67 percent passed (8,281 tested)
  • Biology – 42 percent passed (46,366 tested)
  • English I Reading – 37 percent passed (109,970 tested)
  • English II Reading – 35 percent passed (52,039 tested)
  • English II Writing – 33 percent passed (93,715 tested)
  • Algebra I – 30 percent passed (67,020 tested)
  • English I Writing – 15 percent passed (153,375 tested)

Students that have not passed English I or II reading or writing will be required to take the new combined assessments beginning in Spring 2014.

If they do not pass then, they can take the test again, and again. There is no limit on how many times a student can take a STAAR test. According to TEA, they can keep taking the tests until they pass them.

Sylvan learning centers, and other tutoring centers, say they continue to get more calls from parents and teenagers since the testing began.

“They’ve talked with the school and with their teachers and they’re really concerned with what’s being expected with the new test,” said Crystal Cotti, Executive Director for the Sylvan Learning Center in Austin. “I think it’s a tough situation for a lot of parents. The thing we have the hardest time with is getting the child to try and to persevere after they fail the test the first time.”

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