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High School STAAR Scores Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

Education

A student fills in an answer on an exam. | Image by FrameAngel/Shutterstock

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Texas high schoolers showed slight signs of improvement on the end-of-course STAAR tests; still, educators and their students must do more work to get scores to pre-pandemic levels.

The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, provides a gauge of students’ academic performance. Texas students need to “approach grade-level” on the exams to pass.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released scores for tests taken in the spring of 2022 on June 16. Results were available for tests covering the subjects of Algebra I, Biology, English I and II, and U.S. History in the school year 2020-2021.

Except for English I, Texas students showed modest improvement in each subject compared to 2020-2021.

Due to the pandemic, the test was not administered in 2020 for the 2019-2020 academic year, but the difference in results between tests covering 2018-2019 and 2020-2021 demonstrates how much education students lost while completing most coursework remotely for most of 2020.

When most classes returned to on-campus instruction, teachers had a lot of ground to cover to help students get back on track. Some students were even required to take up to 30 hours of tutoring in a subject if they failed it on the STAAR the previous year, as reported by The Dallas Express.

In 2019, 84% of students passed the Algebra I test, but after returning from remote learning, that percentage dropped to 72% in 2021. The 2022 results saw a gain of 2%, registering 74% of students as “approaching grade-level.”

English I test results in 2019 for the school year 2018-2019 showed that 63% of students passed, but unlike in Algebra I, there was a 3% increase two years later in 2021. However, students did not maintain that gain in 2022, as scores dropped to pre-pandemic levels, clocking 63% again.

The STAAR scores for English II were the most promising, with 2022 numbers exceeding 2019. In 2019, 67% of students passed. In 2021, that number rose to 70%, and in 2022 it ticked up to 71%, showing slight progress despite remote learning and the pandemic.

“These results provide encouraging evidence that the academic recovery plans adopted by the Texas Legislature and implemented by our state’s 370,000 dedicated teachers are working for our students,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

As for grades 3–8, reading and math STAAR scores declined significantly from 2019 to 2021. For example, 72% of 5th graders had a passing reading score pre-pandemic. In 2021, that percentage dropped to 67%.

For 8th graders, the percentage that passed the STAAR math test in 2019 was 81%. In 2021 it was 54%.

District scores will soon be available. As reported by The Dallas Express, for the current school year, scores will be in the form of letter grades such as A, B, and C. If a district receives a letter grade of D or F, the label will read, “Not rated.”

STAAR statewide summary reports are available online.

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