State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness results for the spring 2021 administration showed Spring ISD students performed lower than the state average at every grade level—a trend that was also observed the last time STAAR tests were administered in spring 2019. However, the percentage of students who passed exams was lower in every subject in spring 2021 than in spring 2019.

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.

"This was not a year like any normal year that our students have had to face, that our teachers have had to face," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a June 28 press conference. "The impact of coronavirus on what school means and what school is has been profound. And unfortunately, the impact that the broader conditions of the coronavirus have had on schools in Texas and what ... will likely be throughout the United States is significant."

Spring ISD Superintendent Rodney Watson said the district’s STAAR results were in line with trends seen across the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, we also saw gains in achievement across various levels and schools, which supports the dedication and focus that teachers and campus leaders provided during the pandemic,” Watson said in an emailed statement to Community Impact Newspaper June 29. “We’re very focused now on next steps to help our students recover and accelerate their learning so that we can get our students back on grade level as quickly as possible."

Watson said the district has already invested in its summer school program and is planning for more interventions during the upcoming school year, including tutoring, counseling and ongoing support for teachers to help students get back on track.

“We know that recovering from the pandemic is going to require a lot of hard work and innovative strategies, but we’re confident that we’re going to be able to be able to make up ground and close the gaps," Watson said.

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% to 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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Danica Lloyd and Matt Stephens contributed to this report.