State law requires students in the fifth and eighth grade to pass the STAAR math and reading exam in order to proceed to the next grade level.
“Adequate yearly progress started with No Child Left Behind, which is federal legislation that requires you to assess grades starting in 3rd grade for math and reading,” Chad Davis, the director of data and reporting at Fort Worth ISD, said. “Federally, schools are kept accountable based on scores in reading and math but the state of Texas requires testing in science and social studies as well.”
Commissioner of Education Michael Williams announced the new policy on April 8 after many discussions with superintendents across the state regarding new curriculum standards in mathematics for kindergarten through eighth grade.
“The standards are more difficult and new to the teachers and students,” Sara Gillaspie, the principal of Westcliff Elementary School, said. “Normally, when TEKS has been rewritten for a subject, the state allows for a year to adjust.”
STAAR testing concluded for students in Fort Worth ISD in late April; however, out of the 141 schools in FWISD, 24 schools need improvement and 55 schools made one or more distinctions in the 2013-2014 school year.
The STAAR test is still relatively new, so each year the standard will increase. Currently, a student has to answer 55% of the questions correctly to meet the standard or pass the exam.
Schools in Texas are judged by four progress measures: achievement, improvement, closing the achievement gap and college readiness. If all areas are met, the school has met the standard.
If the school has exceptional scores, these schools are recognized with distinctions in math, science, reading or social studies. To see which campuses met standards and received distinctions in FWISD, you can look at the data.
‘“For the most part I think the STAAR testing reflects both the teachers performance and the students,” Connie Smith, the principal of Tanglewood Elementary, said.
Sara Arispie, the executive director of testing for FWISD, was not available to comment on how many parents decided to “opt out” their child for STAAR testing due to changes.
“We all expected them to not count, but then they waited longer than usual to notify us that they would not count,” Gillaspie said.
Smith says that students at Tanglewood were prepared for testing this year, despite the changing standards that were relocated to different grades.
“I tell the kids it’s like spring training,” Smith said. “You prepare so much with benchmarks, and on opening day you should not be nervous, you should be excited and ready to perform.”
For more information about STAAR testing visit: www.tea.texas.gov