Every spring Texas students are put to the test with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam. The STAAR is the latest in a series of state-mandated standardized tests. Before the STAAR students were tested using the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exam. Then in 2012 the state adopted the STAAR, an exam that is more difficult, longer and timed.
Similar to TAKS, the STAAR test measures the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. However, the STAAR test is more rigorous because it emphasizes what the state calls “readiness standards,” knowledge and skills necessary for college and career. The STAAR tests knowledge of course content as well as problem-solving skills. Grades 3 through 8 are still given grade level-based tests, but these results are excluded from the 2015 state accountability exams. High school students are given end-of-course (EOC) exams. EOC test subjects include algebra I, English I and II, U.S. history and biology. According to state Senate Bill 149, students must pass three of the five EOC exams in order to graduate. Beginning in spring 2016 STAAR English III and algebra II will be available for districts to administer as optional assessments.
For the STAAR test, 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.
On the next two pages, you’ll see a statistical snapshot of 20 public schools in McLennan County for the 2014-2015 school year. The information is based on the 2014-2015 School Report Cards released in December. You’ll find test scores, demographics and teacher information as well as ACT/SAT results, enrollment information and class size statistics. For each campus you’ll see the accountability rating and distinctions. As a comparison, you’ll see how the average high school in Texas performed.
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.state.tx.us.
Find the full results on page 82 of the January issue.