Following the release of student scores for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness in June, Georgetown ISD staff have shared potential strategies to improve student learning and future test scores in the coming school year.

In a nutshell

Testing data from the STAAR administered to third through eighth grade students in the spring semester show students fell short of state averages in all areas except seventh grade math, and saw year-to-year growth in fourth grade math as well as fourth and fifth grade reading.

However, testing data for end-of-course STAAR administered across grade levels show GISD students outpaced the state average in U.S. history. District students' scores increased slightly from the 2022-23 school year to 2023-24 school year in most subjects.

What the experts say

School administrators highlighted some areas of challenge students faced this year with the STAAR administration, which was given for the second time primarily online. It was also the first year the Texas Education Agency used AI to grade the STAAR, including written responses.

Where written responses to STAAR prompts were previously graded by two human graders, the essay questions are now processed through two different AI engines grading based on a rubric, said Jennifer Kearney, GISD's director of teaching and learning during a July 8 board workshop.

"The samplers showed that the human grading was easier and students did better, and AI grading is more rigorous," Kearney said. "But what we've found as a district by getting that data is that when you align the results of what we saw to the rubric, it was pretty on point."

Next steps

Going into the 2024-25 school year, Kearney and Superintendent Devin Padavil highlighted plans for campus-level efforts to improve student learning and STAAR performance by adjusting curriculum and instruction to emphasize intervention early on, including:
  • Improving reading strategies at the kindergarten through fifth grade level to emphasize understanding of units of sound, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension and writing
  • Emphases on critical reading and writing across subjects
  • Providing additional support to instructors and principals
  • Data-based practices for progress monitoring and support for student growth
In their own words

"The research says the most important thing we can do for students is to make sure we have a high-quality teacher in every classroom," Padavil said. "The second-most important thing we will do is a high-quality principal and assistant principal serving our teachers, and so for the four of us and everyone else inside this room, the principal is our customer. This isn't just expectations, expectations, expectations; it's support [and] investment. It's honestly a culture of care. This is going to be tough for our principals, so we have to be there to help set expectations but also provide a high level of support."