CISD unshaken by new rigorous STAAR standards, students excel

The Texas Education Agency released preliminary results for its fourth year of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing July 10, and Conroe ISD scores surpassed state averages in every subject.

“We’re proud of the hard work and effort of our students and staff,” CISD Superintendent Don Stockton said. “Our focus continues to be on student learning, the mastery of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the application of knowledge in a variety of settings. It is our goal to see growth from every learner.”

The biggest gap between the CISD results and state average was in eighth-grade social studies, where the percentage of students who passed is 80 percent to 64 percent, respectively. In nearly all subjects CISD’s passing rate was at least 10 percent higher than the state rate. One exception was in seventh-grade writing in which 80 percent of CISD students passed compared to the statewide 72 percent average.

Hedith Upshaw, CISD director of curriculum and instruction, said since the STAAR’s inception CISD’s passing percentages have maintained similar trends to the rest of the state, and are usually higher.

Upshaw attributes student success to the efforts of teachers and administrators who demonstrate a commitment to instruction as a whole and shaping the student.

“I think one of the things that is important is it’s not about the test,” she said. “A test result is a product of grade instruction, and this just happens to be how the state measures us. And because CISD has always believed in that, it’s why we always do so well.”

Despite the total reworking of the math section in STAAR tests that increased the difficulty for younger students, CISD officials remained confident the students would outperform the state average, Upshaw said.

In April 2012 the State Board of Education approved revised curriculum standards in math for grades kindergarten-8, which would have gone into effect for the 2014-15 school year, according to a report from the TEA. After districts across the state lobbied for more time to allow students to adjust to the changes, the board named the 2014-15 school year a transition year for the new standards.

The TEA releases its district report cards in the fall, which includes additional details on how each district performed on the test and demographics of the test-taking students. In October, the district will have a better idea of how it compared to other districts similar in size and demographics, Upshaw said.

“We were disappointed math didn’t count because we were ready,” Upshaw said. “We don’t spend all day going over STAAR questions; we teach our kids how to think. We teach how to think, how to be productive citizens and good people, and they do well. And if not, we help.”