School districts face uncertainty with release of raw STAAR test scores

Some public school students took the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test this spring, but they should not expect to know how they did until 2013.

While school districts received STAAR raw scores for grades three through eight at the end of May, they had to choose whether to release the information to parents because right now, the raw scores are not the final scores.

Hays CISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said the district decided not to release the raw scores.

"A good accountability system for schools is necessary, and it's not a bad thing. However, the place we are now is, we're still trying to figure it out. And it's very, very challenging," Lyon said. "You could have two students who get, let's say, 24 out of 50 right—that's their raw score—with completely different results."

San Marcos CISD has opted to release the preliminary scores to parents in June, accompanied by an explanation that the numbers will not tell schools, parents or students much.

Greg Rodriguez, SMCISD coordinator for accountability and school improvement, cautioned parents not to guess what the scores mean.

"Our apprehension is that people will try to compute these numbers into a percent," Rodriguez said. "They should not, because they will be graded on a scale."

That scale or performance standard has yet to be set by the Texas Education Agency, the state entity regulating the new test replacing the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

The new standard is expected to be complete in November. Once the standard is finished, TEA will convert raw scores into a final scaled score, which will be released to school districts in January.

For now, districts are working with limited information and hoping everything happens on schedule. Rodriguez acknowledged that has not necessarily been the case with the transition to STAAR.

"We try to plan according to the TEA's deadlines," he said. "There have definitely been some anomalies between what was scheduled and the reality."

Districts received information from TEA about the new performance levels for the STAAR end-of-course exams in April, details that were originally expected in February. The EOC exams are the high school-level version of the new tests. These were given in May just after the school districts learned what the new performance levels would be.

The shifting deadlines and lack of final scores for lower grades makes planning a challenge, Rodriguez said. The district does School districts face uncertainty with release of raw STAAR test scores not know where it needs to adjust instruction at each campus.

He said he expects SMCISD students will perform well in the end.

"Overall, SMCISD feels that students should do well on the more rigorous exams because we are instructing students with the state curriculum and we have aligned instruction based on the assessment blueprints for STAAR," Rodriguez said.

Lyon said the situation has been a challenge, but HCISD students will succeed on the new test.

"Our students in Hays CISD are being well-educated and well-prepared, and they'll do fine," Lyon said.

The 2011–12 freshman class is the first group of students that will be required to pass their STAAR EOC exams to graduate from high school. Current sophomores, juniors and seniors will graduate on the former TAKS program.