Tyler – This school year, ninth grade students and seventh and eighth grade students enrolled in high school courses began taking the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) End of Course (EOC) exams rather than the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests, which they were accustomed to taking in the past. Under the new system, students were tested on the courses in which they were enrolled, including: English I Reading, English I Writing, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Biology and World Geography.
Thanks to our dedicated teachers, staff and district math team, Tyler ISD saw improved performance in math, an area where some Tyler ISD students have struggled in the past. The District’s academic ratings as defined by the Texas Education Agency have been affected by lower math scores in two student subgroups: African American and Economically Disadvantaged. However, this year under the STAAR EOC, students in those subgroups performed equal to or better than the state average on the math EOC assessments.
Seventy-six percent of Tyler ISD’s African American students achieved the Level II Satisfactory Performance on the Algebra I EOC, while 75 percent of this subgroup passed statewide. This is a great improvement over last year, when only 42 percent of Tyler ISD’s ninth grade African American students passed the math portion of the TAKS test, compared to a 56 percent pass rate across the state.
The improvement was also seen from Economically Disadvantaged students. Tyler ISD’s students in this subgroup matched the state average, with a 77 percent passing rate. Last year, only 49 percent of Tyler ISD’s Economically Disadvantaged ninth grade students passed the math portion of the TAKS test, compared to 62 percent of the subgroup across the state.
“Based on the results of previous TAKS tests, we knew that as a district Tyler ISD needed to really focus on math, especially within certain student groups,” Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Randy Reid said. “Due to the outstanding efforts of our teachers and staff, we have seen Tyler ISD students performing as well as or better than students around the state. While we believe that one test taken on one day is not the only indicator of student learning, we are very proud of our entire team for these positive results.”
Science has also been an area of focus for Tyler ISD, and the hard work of teachers and staff has again paid off. The average number of Tyler ISD students who passed the Biology EOC exam equaled the statewide average of 87 percent. Furthermore, four out of six of Tyler ISD’s student subgroups performed better than the statewide average on the test. Like math, science has been an area where our students have struggled in the past. The District is encouraged by our students’ continued improvement in science, and we will keep working diligently to further improve those results in the future.
Historically, Tyler ISD students have performed well on English Language Arts (ELA) tests, with 89 percent of our ninth grade students meeting the standard on the TAKS Reading test last year. The inaugural EOC results have shown a significant decline in ELA passing rates across the state, however, and Tyler ISD’s performance has reflected that statewide trend. Last year, 89 percent of ninth grade students who took the TAKS Reading test after taking English I passed statewide, while this year the state averaged a 68 percent passing rate on the English I Reading EOC exam and a 55 percent passing rate on the English I Writing EOC exam after completing English I.
Only 63 percent of Tyler ISD students who took the English I Reading EOC met the Level II passing standard, and on English I Writing, 45 percent of Tyler ISD students passed. Although these results are reflective of a statewide trend, they are below Tyler ISD’s expectations. The District is committed to better prepare students for success on STAAR by analyzing the data provided by the state and leading training sessions for teachers targeting low performing categories.
“Our District has proven through our math and science scores that we can use our test results to identify areas that need improvement and achieve positive results,” Reid stated. “While we will not take our focus off of math and science, we will now apply the same intense scrutiny to our ELA subjects to ensure our students are college and career ready in this area.”
This year, students also took the World Geography EOC exam for the first time, and 78 percent of the Tyler ISD students who took the exam met the passing standard. Because this subject area has never been tested, student improvement in World Geography cannot be determined. Finally, small groups of Tyler ISD students completed the Geometry and Algebra II tests with great results. In Geometry all 212 students who took the test met the standard, and 100% of 37 students passed the Algebra II test.
Students who did not pass a STAAR EOC test will be provided an opportunity to attend summer remediation courses and may retake the test in July. In the ELA subjects, specifically, students who attend these courses will undergo intense remediation focusing on vocabulary and expository writing. Students will have three opportunities each school year to retake the test, and they must pass their STAAR EOC tests to graduate.
Tyler ISD recognizes that with any new testing program there is an adjustment period for students and teachers, and we will continue to provide training for our teachers so they can better prepare our students for success on STAAR. The vision of Tyler ISD is to be recognized as a premier school district in the state and nation, and we will keep working toward that goal as we prepare for the upcoming school year.