Data released this week by the Texas Education Agency and Data Interaction for Texas Student Assessments show 19% of fifth graders and 28% of eighth graders in LISD did not meet expectations in math in the spring 2021 assessments. Those figures were 12% for both fifth graders and eighth graders in spring 2019, which was the last time STAAR exams were administered.
Statewide math scores show fifth graders not meeting expectations increased from 17% in 2019 to 31% this year. Eighth graders across the state went from 19% in 2019 to 40% this year.
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. Morath said he expects the final STAAR scores will be released Monday or Tuesday of next week but called the preliminary numbers “problematic.”
“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.
Officials from LISD did not respond to a request for comment on the results.
For the reading assessments, LISD fifth graders went from 15% not meeting expectations in spring 2019 to 20% this year. The district’s eighth graders went from 16% not meeting expectations in 2019 to 22% not meeting expectations this year.
Statewide STAAR scores for reading show fifth and eighth graders both increased from 23% not meeting expectations in 2019 to 28% this year.
One reason 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.
He said under new requirements passed by the Texas Legislature this year, districts have to create a written plan for how they will accelerate learning for students who did not meet grade level expectations in third, fifth and eighth grades.
“For students who are below grade level, that's what we have to do to get them caught up to grade level,” Morath said. “The number of students who are significantly below grade level is far higher this year than we've ever seen it before because of the academic impact of COVID.”
Valerie Wigglesworth contributed to this report.