Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Allen ISD tops state STAAR scores at every level, subject
Not that it's a competition...
Allen Allen ISD students scored significantly better on the STAAR test than their statewide peers, according to numbers recently released by the school district.
“You always go into something thinking you're not going to do as well, because you're nervous about it,” said Beth Nicholas, assistant superintendent of learning services. “There's quite a bit of angst, not knowing, not seeing what the items look like. I think we did better than we thought [we would]. We're pleased and when we put ourselves up against everybody else – not that it's a comparison – but it made us feel like the hard work that we've been doing has paid off.”
The results covered third-grade through eighth-grade students who took the state's new standardized test last spring. The students were placed in three categories – unsatisfactory, satisfactory, or advanced – depending on their performance in each subject area.
Allen ISD students scored better than the state average in every subject and grade level. The district outpaced the rest of the state on the number of students who scored satisfactory or better on the test – 92% across subject and grade level to the state's 73% – and the number who turned in advanced scores – 33% to the state's 14%.
A satisfactory score means a student is prepared the next grade level, while an advanced score means a student is “well-prepared” for the next grade level. An unsatisfactory score means a student is not ready to advance.
Every grade level was tested on math and reading. In addition, fourth-grade and seventh-grade students were tested on writing, fifth-grade and eighth-grade students were tested on science, and eighth-grade students were tested on social studies.
The only category in which the state performed better than Allen ISD was the percentage of eighth-grade students who earned an advanced rating in math, with 7% to the district's 4%. That was the district's lowest percentage of advanced scores in a subject by a wide margin.
To explain the discrepancy, Nicholas said that about 40% of the district's eighth-grade students take Algebra 1, an above grade-level course. Those students took the STAAR end-of-course exam for that subject rather than the eighth-grade math test.
“You pulled your top students out of that sample,” said Susan Olinger, Allen ISD Board of Trustees member, during Tuesday's board meeting where the results were announced.
Nicholas said that they could have had those students take both tests but chose not to, though many neighboring districts decided to double test their students.
Similar to the statewide totals, Allen ISD students performed best on the reading section of the test and turned in their lowest scores on the social studies test. The district's average satisfactory and advanced rates across grade levels for the reading section were 94% and 77%, respectively.
The results also showed a disparity between the district's student groups, with black and economically disadvantaged students lagging behind their peers.
“We still have some works to do on some of the groups in closing the gap,” Nicholas said. “We had made tremendous progress under TAKS, but with the new system now we do have some work to do in those areas.”
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