State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness results from the spring 2021 administration released June 28 showed Cy-Fair ISD students performed better than the state average at every grade level. However, the percentage of students who passed exams was lower in almost every subject in spring 2021 than in spring 2019—the last time STAAR tests were administered.

Texas officials said the COVID-19 pandemic had significant effects on students, which led to a noticeable decline in STAAR performance. STAAR testing did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic, but 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.

“These numbers are all very accurate in terms of the conclusions one would draw,” Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath said at a June 28 press conference. “I think far more important for individual families, for every child that we have STAAR results from—that allows educators and parents themselves to build action plans to support those students moving forward in terms of their literacy and numeracy.”

Leslie Francis, assistant superintendent for communication and community relations in CFISD, said many students missed out on instruction time with their teachers during the pandemic.

Additionally, she said all students were expected to take the STAAR in 2019, but only students learning in person were required to take the tests this spring.

“One cannot compare the 2019 and 2021 STAAR administrations,” Francis said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper. “The expectation for student participation on the 2021 STAAR was very different from that of the 2019 STAAR.”

Statewide STAAR participation was about 87% in 2021 compared to 96% in a normal year, according to Morath.

Data from the TEA shows the lowest performance declines were in districts where 76%-100% of students were learning in the traditional classroom setting as opposed to virtually.

“What we know now with certainty is that the decision in Texas to prioritize in-person instruction was critical,” Morath said.

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