Test scores for the spring 2021 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness and End-of-Course Assessments were released June 28. Across the state, COVID-19 learning disruptions caused an increase in the number of students not meeting grade level expectations, according to a press release from the Texas Education Agency. This decrease was observable across all subjects, except for English I and English II EOCs. The largest decrease was seen in math as a whole, with districts that offered virtual learning seeing a greater degree of declines.

During a Texas State Board of Education meeting June 23, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath spoke about the “academic damage” the pandemic has done to the state’s school system.

“What that means is that the name of the game for us for the conceivable future, is how do we modify our systems, across all 1,200 school systems in the state of Texas, to increase the rate at which we accelerate learning,” he said.

One reason that students may have done poorly on the STAAR this year, according to Morath, was that they were being “exposed to below grade level material all year long,” which students could not control.

Morath said in a June 28 press release that while the data may be “disheartening,” teachers and school administrators are working on action plans to support students in the new school year.

“Policymakers are using it to direct resources where they are needed most,” Morath said in the press release. “And parents can log into https://texasassessment.gov to understand how well each of their children learned this year’s material, and how to support the academic growth of their children moving forward. Armed with the best information, working closely together, and with significant new supports from the Texas Legislature, we will provide stronger academic growth for students than ever before.”

Under the recently passed House Bill 4545, parents of eligible students who took an assessment will have the opportunity to access high performing teachers, as well as benefit from additional tutoring, according to the release. TEA will also be working with school systems this summer and in forthcoming school years to accelerate learning by making rigorous instructional materials, additional teacher support, expanded learning time where appropriate and targeted tutoring available.

According to the TEA, data shows students had better outcomes when they attended school in person, compared to students who attended virtually.

Round Rock ISD, Pflugerville ISD and Hutto ISD all saw a general increase in the number of students who did not meet grade level expectations for STAAR and EOC exams from spring 2019 to spring 2021. These exams were not administered in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s how the three districts compare:

William C. Wadsack contributed to this report.