Every year Texas students are faced with a daunting task: conquer the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. While this is only one measure of a student’s achievement in the classroom, the STAAR results act as springboards for improvement in students’ — and schools’ — academics.
The STAAR tests measure the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum standards, which are adopted by the State Board of Education. The exam is more rigorous than previous standardized tests used by Texas schools because it emphasizes what the state calls “readiness standards,” or knowledge and skills necessary for college and career. The STAAR tests knowledge of course content as well as problem-solving skills.
Grades three through eight are given grade level-based tests, but these results are excluded from the 2016 state accountability exams. High school students are given end-of-course exams in algebra I, English I and II, U.S. history and biology. Last year, algebra II and English III tests became optional for the first time. Students must pass — meet or exceed Level II: Satisfactory Academic Performance — those five STAAR EOC assessments to earn a high school diploma from a Texas public or charter school. Students are given three testing opportunities each year. The five EOC assessments required for graduation are administered at the end of the first semester, at the end of the second semester and in the summer. Once a student passes an EOC assessment, the student has fulfilled that part of the graduation requirement and cannot retest.
For the STAAR tests, the Texas Education Agency uses an accountability rating system. Each campus and district is identified as one of two ratings: met standard or improvement required. Once a school has met the standard rating, it can earn up to seven of the following distinctions: academic achievement in reading/English language arts; academic achievement in mathematics; academic achievement in science; academic achievement in social studies; top 25 percent: student progress; top 25 percent: closing performance gaps; and postsecondary readiness. With the passing of House Bill 2804 in 2015, this accountability system will be replaced in the 2017-2018 academic year with a new system that will rate schools on an A-F scale in five domains, as well as receiving an overall performance grade.
On the next two pages, you will find a chart that compares public schools in McLennan County for the 2015-2016 school year. This information is based on the 2015-2016 school report cards released in December. You’ll find test scores, accountability ratings, attendance rates, ACT/SAT results, number of students per teacher and more. As a comparison, you’ll also see the state averages for Texas public high schools.
While these statistics serve as an indicator of a school’s performance, they do not encapsulate each student or each classroom. You can learn more about the STAAR tests and accountability ratings, as well as the definitions for each school report card, by visiting the Texas Education Agency’s website at tea.texas.gov.