The initial round of Texas' newest standardized test results are in and show that Plano ISD high school students performed better than the state average on end of course exams.
The statewide results for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests were released in early June, with the Plano ISD results released last week. The PISD results were first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
While end of course exams were administered in 11 different subjects, each student only took five exams. The passing rates for the five most commonly administered exams in Plano ISD -- Algebra I, Biology, Reading I, Writing I and World Geography -- ranged from 79 percent to 96 percent. Statewide passing rates for the same five subjects were 55 percent to 87 percent.
"Without the baseline, the only thing we can measure against is the state average," said Jim Hirsch, the Plano ISD associate superintendent for academic and technology services. "We have always performed better than the state averages, so that is to be expected. However, as I look at the differential between our student's performance and the state average, compared to last years TAKS performance versus the state average, the differential is much larger. In other words, our students have performed much better compared to the average than they did in TAKS."
Hirsch said once a baseline is set, the district will be able to compare year-to-year results from Plano ISD students and tracking progress will be simpler.
Plano students fared the best in biology, where 96 percent received a passing score. The writing exam proved the most difficult for students in PISD, with 79 percent of students passing. This exam was also the most difficult statewide, which may be due to the fact this is the first year writing has been assessed at the ninth grade level.
Jasper High School students fared the best of the district's six high schools, with 91 percent of students passing all five of their exams. The rates of students passing all exams at the other high schools in Plano ISD were 77 percent at Clark and Shepton, 71 percent at McMillen, 69 percent at Vines and 53 percent at Williams.
Hirsch said students who failed a portion of the STAAR test are retaking the test this week. He said to prepare the students for the exam, additional tutoring was offered in June. Students who again fail the test will be offered additional instruction in the fall to prepare for the December testing period.
"We have been pleased overall with the attendance that we have had," Hirsch said. "I know our counselors worked very hard. We have had students tell us they didn't realize the importance of these end of course exams until they took them the first time. I think a lot of kids took the classes this summer and the re-tests that are happening this week seriously because they realize the requirements for graduation have changed."
When the statewide results were released, Robert Scott, the former commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, said the early returns were about as expected.
"While we know there is always an adjustment period for students and teachers in a new testing program, results from the first STAAR assessments are encouraging overall, showing that students generally performed as expected or better and that educators focused intensely on the state curriculum," Scott wrote on the TEA website. "These results give us the opportunity to focus on subject areas that need improvement, and we will continue to work with school districts, teachers and parents to ensure we continue to improve education for Texas students."
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