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Austin ISD Students Performed Best in Math and Science on the New STAAR Test and Make Gains on the Grade 11 TAKS Math and Science Tests

Austin, TX—The Texas Education Agency released preliminary results from the new State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and Austin Independent School District students fared the best in math and science.

STAAR End-of-Course (EOC) exams replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills for 9th grade students and for middle school students enrolled in high school EOC classes. Students who entered high school prior to the 2011-12 school year will continue to take TAKS to meet their graduation requirements.

TEA has identified three performance levels for EOC exams. Level I is unsatisfactory academic performance, level II is satisfactory academic performance and level III is advanced academic performance. Level II is considered the passing standard for STAAR EOC exams.

According to preliminary results for EOC exams, 84 percent of AISD students scored at Level II in Algebra I and 84 percent scored at Level II in Biology. In World Geography, 79 percent of 9th graders met the Level II passing standard. The results are preliminary since they do not include modified assessments taken by some students in special education.

"It is important to note that the results for the different subjects are not comparable," said Bill Caritj, Austin ISD Chief Performance Officer. "First, different students took each test depending on their course enrollment. More importantly, the standards set by the state for Level II vary widely among the tests and the tests may also vary in difficulty. For example, the standard for English I Writing was much higher than the initial phase-in standard for any of the other tests. As a result, the percentage of students meeting this higher standard in Writing is significantly lower than any other subject area."

Preliminary Level II-Satisfactory Results

 

"Our curriculum and assessment teams worked hard to prepare the teachers for the new assessments and teachers and campus administrators worked hard to revise their teaching to help students prepare," said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. "We don't have much to go on at this point to compare our results with other districts or the state but are certainly reviewing our data closely to guide us as we revise curriculum this summer and plan for next year."

"While we are encouraged by the preliminary results, particularly in Algebra and Biology, it seems clear that the new assessments are more rigorous than the TAKS tests and that we have a lot of work to do if we are going to improve our performance and prepare our students as the standards continue to increase over the next few years," Caritj added.

Students who are required to take EOC exams must meet cumulative score requirements in each subject area to graduate. Because the new STAAR assessments are more rigorous than TAKS, the passing standards for EOC exams will be phased in over four years before reaching the final recommended standards in 2016. The passing standards for modified EOC exams that are taken by some students with disabilities and for all STAAR exams in 3rd through 8th grades will not be set until December 2012. As a result, schools and districts will not receive their final 2012 performance reports on STAAR and EOC from the TEA until Jan. 2013.

Students who do not meet the Level II passing standard on one or more EOC exams are expected to retake the assessments needed. EOC re-tests will be offered at Austin ISD high schools during the week of July 9. Students should contact their high school administrator for information on AISD's summer school and EOC Prep Camps.

According to preliminary exit-level TAKS results, AISD improved in both Mathematics and Science while the percentage was unchanged in Social Studies. On the preliminary results, 91 percent of 11th grade students met the passing standard in English/Language Arts, 90 percent in Mathematics, 97 percent in Social Studies and 92 percent in Science. The Math test score increased by one percentage point and the Science percentage increased by three points. Large gains were achieved in the percentages of students scoring at the higher Commended Performance level increased by seven percentage points in English/Language Arts, Mathematics and Social Studies, compared to last year.

In February, the Texas Education Commissioner deferred the implementation of the 15 percent grading requirement connected to STAAR EOC exams. However, passing the end-of-course exams is still a state graduation requirement.

To learn more about STAAR, please visit www.austinisd.org/staar.