In Leander ISD, fewer students were performing at grade level in the middle of this school year than at the beginning in almost every grade, while students showed improvements in reading, according to district data.

District officials presented the new data on kindergarten through eighth grade math and reading readiness, and college, career and military readiness for high school students at a Feb. 15 board of trustees meeting.

The big picture

A mid-year update from the district showed that students in kindergarten through eighth grade exhibited a lower level of math readiness—performing at grade level or above—in December compared to September, except for third grade, which saw an increase from 69% to 71%.

Decreases in math readiness were seen amongst every student group, with the largest disparities amongst Hispanic, emergent bilingual and economically disadvantaged students.

The recent data may have been impacted by teacher turnover as new teachers came on board without the same level of training, Area Superintendent Christine Simpson said.

In reading, kindergarten through eighth grade students showed the same or higher levels of readiness in the middle of the school year compared to the beginning, with improvements amongst every student group.

The district launched a reading intervention redesign for kindergarten through first grade students this year, resulting in a 19% decrease in the number of first grade students at-risk in reading in January compared to May, Chief Academic Officer Matt Bentz said.

In their own words

“We are not growing all the students' mathematical learning at the rate and with the progress where we would like them to be,” Bentz said. “We in LISD are not getting as much growth and making as much progress with our students as some of the other students across the nation.”

What else?

High school students showed a slight decline in readiness levels in ninth and 10th grade math and English language arts, and biology from the beginning to the middle of the year, which Bentz said was not statistically significant.

In prior school years, students displayed improved performance in math and reading on the Texas Success Initiative from January to May of their senior year. This year’s class is on track to meet or exceed the performance of the class of 2023, Bentz said.

In the fall of 2023, 10th and 11th grade students performed above the state and national averages in reading and writing, and math on the PSAT, he said.

What’s next?

This year, the district launched a math initiative for second through sixth grades and Algebra 1, Bentz said. The initiative has involved lowering student-to-teacher ratios and providing support from math specialists, hours of professional development for hundreds of teachers and opportunities for co-teaching, Bentz said.

LISD is in the beginning stages of the initiative, which is intended to lead to improved teacher practices and student outcomes, he said.

The district will complete an evaluation of the new math initiative, continue to collect data, and conduct surveys and focus groups in February and March to gather feedback from staff, administrators and students, Bentz said.