Students testing

Coppell ISD officials say they are not too concerned about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test scores being lower in the spring than in 2019.

What they are concerned about is the perception people may have when glancing at the scores.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently released the scores from the STAAR test and end-of-course exams administered in the spring, following a challenging year brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the state scores were lower than in 2019, the last year the STAAR test and end-of-course exams were given.

Statewide the percentage of students who didn’t meet the standard increased from 25 percent in 2019 to 34 percent this year, according to TEA records. Percentages increased in all subject areas and grade levels except for English I and English II.

The percentage of students who approached the standard (75% to 66%), met the standard (48% to 40%) or mastered the standard (23% to 18%) dropped across the state.

Coppell ISD saw drops in average score and in the percentage of students meeting the grade level on the tests.

Most of the drops in performance were slight in CISD. Some of the more significant decreases included the sixth-grade math test, where the percentage of students who met the grade level dropped from 76 percent in 2019 to 57 percent in 2021. There were also drops in seventh-grade math (87 percent to 70 percent), third-grade math (71 percent to 56 percent), fourth-grade math (77 percent to 64 percent) and eighth-grade math (91 percent to 78 percent).

In the reading test, fourth- and eighth-graders each had a drop in the percentage of students who met the grade level (72 percent to 63 percent, and 84 percent to 75 percent, respectively.)

Coppell ISD had improvement in the end-of-course exams in English II, where the percentage of students who met grade level increased from 83 percent in 2019 to 88 percent in 2021. The percentage of students who met standard in the U.S. history test slightly increased as well.

“I don’t have large concerns looking at our district’s numbers, however I am concerned that the negative STAAR score stories would infer that learning did not occur this year,” said Angie Brooks Applegate, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, “that our educators, families and learners would feel deflated and not encouraged about learning in a pandemic. We know that this is not the case.  While this was a truly challenging year for CISD and the state, our staff, learners and families rose to the occasion and made it through one of the most difficult years in education.” 

Like many districts in the state, CISD also cautions people from focusing too much on the results of one test.

“We believe STAAR tests do not give a holistic picture of Coppell ISD, our students, our schools or any schools in Texas. Everyone must remember that it is one data point on one day,” Brooks Applegate said. “Therefore, the state’s standardized tests do not paint the full picture of learning and growth within our schools. CISD believes in a comprehensive Community Based Accountability System, in which STAAR is one of many data assessment points. These numbers do tell us that learning did occur, that our children are resilient and that our teachers are committed to providing excellent education in the most extraordinary circumstances.”

Brooks Applegate also noted the challenges students faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, including remote students coming to the campus for the first time all year to take the test.

She said regardless of the test scores the district will continue to support students heading into the upcoming school year to address any learning gaps. Those include district assessments and screeners. But she hopes families are aware of the learning that did take place last year, even if the STAAR test scores were down.

“There are many ways our learners grew and thrived during the pandemic, and they will continue to do so,” Brooks Applegate said. “Our innovative staff will continue partnering with our learners and families to create amazing learning experiences that defy the ability of a standardized test to measure overall growth. As we like to say, “You can’t test that.”

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