The class of 2022 in Leander ISD displayed a slight decline in college, career and military readiness; however, several grades and student groups showed improvements on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test in 2023, according to new district data presented at a Feb. 15 board of trustees meeting.

The lowered performance in college, career and military readiness was impacted by the pandemic as students took classes online and found Advanced Placement courses more challenging, said Emily Gray, LISD senior coordinator of K-12 measures.

The big picture

From 2021 to 2022, the percentage of graduating seniors meeting indicators of college readiness mostly decreased—including meeting AP/International Baccalaureate course criteria and taking dual credit courses—according to a presentation on the district’s Texas Academic Performance Report for the 2022-23 school year.

The report accounted for the class of 2022, which were virtual students during their junior year when the district had the lowest participation in the SAT, Gray said.

“The class of 2022 was lower in those than we had seen in previous years,” Gray said about college readiness indicators. “The class of 2023, we saw a big improvement and we expect the same for our class of 2024.”

However, the class of 2022 completed more industry-based certifications compared to the classes of 2021 and 2020, she said.

Also of note

Students across several grade levels and groups saw percentage point increases in approaching or meeting grade level on the STAAR test in 2023, said Brenda Cruz, LISD director of assessment and academic measures. African American students saw some of the most growth, including a 20% point increase in approaching and meeting grade level in sixth grade reading, according to the presentation.

Cruz highlighted the following improvements on the STAAR:
  • Third through fifth grade students meeting grade level in math increased in almost every student group.
  • At least five middle school student groups saw 9%-12% point increases in meeting grade level.
  • High school special education students displayed 6%-10% point increases in approaching and meeting grade level.
Almost half of the district’s students who did not pass the STAAR in years prior passed last school year, outperforming the state and regional averages, Gray said.

Moving forward, the district will look to raise the percentage of students mastering grade level in all subject areas, the presentation showed. The percentage of students mastering grade level in third grade reading decreased from 42% in 2022 to 28% in 2023.

Board President Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia expressed concerns as the percentage of African American students mastering grade level in third grade reading decreased from 24% to 9%.

By the numbers

Since 2019, the district has grown by over 1,000 students with some of the largest growth in its Asian and emergent bilingual student populations and a decrease in white students, Cruz said.

The district had 5,277 staff members last school year with a higher percentage of teachers than the state average but a lower composition of aides, auxiliary staff and administration, according to the presentation.