STAAR gains point to significant improvement

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Fifth- and eighth-grade students in the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) achieved significant gains on the first administration of the STAAR test in both mathematics and reading. The results released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) show all Dallas ISD math comparisons increased by at least 5 percentage points, up from last year, with double-digit gains at the Meets Performance Level.

STAAR performance levels were renamed last year and are noted as Approaches Grade Level, Meets Grade Level, Masters Grade Level, and Does Not Meet Grade Level.

Passing rates in reading also showed improvement from the previous year, as fifth-graders posted an increase at every performance level. Of particular note, Dallas students saw their strongest growth in reading at the Meets Level with a 9.2 percentage point gain, while students at the Approaches Level earned a difference of nearly 7 percentage points.

“It is evident our strong math scores continue to show growth throughout the district, however, it is equally important to ensure our reading scores make the same great gains from year to year, and that is something the district is looking to strengthen,” said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

The scores are also encouraging for the district’s largest student populations indicating some achievement gaps are closing.  The African-American and Hispanic subgroups demonstrated strong performances in math at Approaches and Meets, with their highest gains in the latter. African-American students in grades 5 and 8 saw top gains at the Meets Level, with 9.3 and 9.4 percentage point increases, respectively. Hispanics equally performed well at the same level by posting 12.3 and 12.4 percentage point gains up from the previous year.

While gains in reading were not as high, African-Americans in fifth grade increased their passing rate over the previous year by 9.2 percentage points at the Approaches Level. Likewise, Hispanic students in grade 5 improved their Meets scores, by 10.4 points.

This is the third year Dallas ISD students posted strong math results, leading district administrators to expect some multi-year improvement required schools will meet standards by the end of testing season. TEA has not released the state’s first administration scores.

“The results truly demonstrate the hard work our students and staff have put forth, and their efforts should be commended,” said Hinojosa. “But this is not a time to get comfortable. There is still significant focus on identifying areas that need to be refined for greater achievement.”

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