State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness results from the spring 2021 administration released June 28 showed Clear Creek ISD students experienced a dip in performance compared to spring 2019—the last time the exams were administered—due to COVID-19-related learning disruptions. This is consistent with statewide trends.
Superintendent Eric Williams said in a June 30 statement to Community Impact Newspaper these scores reflect hard work, dedication to students and a commitment to make the most of a difficult situation.
“We can be proud of what our students accomplished with the support of our educators, parents, and guardians. ” Williams said in the statement. “They also indicate the work we have ahead of us in meeting the individual needs of our students as we prepare to start a new school year that will look a lot more like a pre-pandemic school year than the most recent school year.”
State average results in 2021 showed a 4% decrease in students reading at or above grade level and a 15% decline in students doing math at or above grade level from 2019. CCISD students were on par with that trend for reading, with up to 9% more students reading below grade level between grades three and eight; there was an 8%-18% increase in mathematics students performing below grade level, with more significant gaps in seventh and eighth grade test takers.
Students scored above the Texas average on the majority of the STAAR and End of Course exams, per CCISD’s June 30 statement. From 2019 to 2021, there were minimal increases or slight decreases in the percentage of CCISD secondary students who did not meet expectations in U.S. History, English I and English II; for biology and algebra, 3%-6% more students did not meet expectations this spring than in 2019. Testing did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The district is analyzing student performance and developing instructional supports to address any learning gaps so that all students can succeed in a post-pandemic educational landscape, the statement said.
Texas officials said the pandemic had significant effects on students, which led to a noticeable decline in STAAR performance. Officials gave two key takeaways at a June 28 press conference: STAAR math scores fared significantly worse than reading in 2021, and in-person students and districts performed much better than remote students and districts.
“The performance decline is noticeable,” Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath said.
Statewide STAAR participation was about 87% in 2021 compared to 96% in a normal year, according to Morath. The 2020-21 school year was full of unexpected turns for teachers and students, and the effects of coronavirus on “what school means and what school is” are far-reaching, Morath said.
During the press conference, he emphasized the importance of local educators and parents developing action plans to support student literacy and numeracy moving forward.
Data from the TEA shows the smallest performance declines were in districts where 76%-100% of students were learning in the traditional classroom setting as opposed to virtually. As of March, more than 80% of CCISD students were learning in-person, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.
“What we know now with certainty is that the decision in Texas to prioritize in-person instruction was critical,” Morath said.
See more of the preliminary results data at http://txreports.emetric.net.
CCISD measures itself by various standards aside from STAAR performance, former trustee Page Rander and Robert Bayard, newly appointed deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction, emphasized at a May board workshop.
“If there’s one thing that sets Clear Creek ISD apart from many other districts, it is the opportunities for students. They’re multifaceted,” Bayard said as district leaders discussed takeaways from CCISD’s 2019-20 Community Based Accountability Report on May 10. “We’re not just a worksheet-driven district. The fact that kids have opportunities in high school that many kids don’t even get until they’re juniors and seniors in college is amazing.”
Jake Magee and Matt Stephens contributed to this report.