Preliminary results from the spring’s administration of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests indicate a decline in test scores from 2019 across the state.

But leaders from Little Elm ISD caution against reading too much into the scores.

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) STAAR scores were down across the state, and the percentage of students not meeting the standard increased. 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.

In Little Elm ISD, the percentage of students whose STAAR test score did not meet the standard increased from 2019 to 2021 in every test category in every grade level.

Seventh-grade math had the largest increase in not meeting the standard with 56 percent in 2021 compared to 33 percent in 2019. Sixth-grade math increased to 35 percent from 17 percent. Sixth-grade reading had 44 percent not meet the standard from 31 percent.

In the end-of-course exams the percentage of students who didn’t meet the standard increased in all exams in LEISD except for English I, where 32 percent of the test takers didn’t make the standard compared to 35 percent in 2019.

But LEISD Superintendent Daniel Gallagher cautioned against reading too much into these scores.

“My biggest concern with the STAAR test is that I don't want our students or parents to equate a test result with future success,” Gallagher said. “We should not use the STAAR test as a determining factor of whether a child will or will not be successful in their life. We will however use these results to help us better address student learning gaps.” 

Gallagher said it should be noted the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role in the testing outcomes.

“It's an understatement to say the pandemic had an impact on our students this past year,” Gallagher said. “I think it's safe to say that every single member of our community has been impacted by the pandemic, and our students are no different. With so many barriers, missed days, revolving absences - this school year was about teaching students in the safest and healthiest environment possible. We need to remember that we asked more of our students, parents, and teachers this past year than ever before. I want to remind our parents that as they are reviewing their child's test scores to remember the challenges that they faced on a daily basis.”

Regardless of the scores, Gallagher said LEISD is taking several steps to address loss of learning due to the pandemic.

“We will be offering more opportunities inside and outside the school day to address student learning gaps by using ESSER federal funds to support our plans,” Gallagher said. “We have also hired additional staff to provide teaching and learning support at each campus so we can meet the needs of each student.”

Gallagher said there is one encouraging sign that came from the last year.

“If there is anything positive that came from the pandemic it's that our students and teachers continue to prove that they are resilient,” Gallagher said. “We have also learned that some technology and resources we used last year may offer additional opportunities for our students and teachers in the future.”

While district leaders aren’t putting too much stock in the scores, state leaders are.

According to the TEA, districts with a higher percentage of students learning virtually experienced a greater degree of STAAR test score decline. It said districts with a higher percentage of in-person students “largely avoided any learning declines in reading.”

“When students come into Texas public schools they are well-served by Texas educators – a fact that these scores confirm,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

Morath said school districts and policy makers can use the data to make plans for moving forward. He encouraged parents to visit for a more in-depth look at the data. He also touted HB 4545, which allows parents of high-performing students who took the test to access high-performing teachers and receive additional tutoring.

For a breakdown of results click here.

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