LHISD students score above state, region on spring STAAR exams

By SHELLY WILKISON

Liberty Hill students scored far above the state and regional averages on the spring administration of the STAAR exams.

Results of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) reported to school trustees during their regular meeting Monday showed local students performed double digits ahead of students statewide on most tests.

The spring administration marks  the second time Texas students have been tested using the STAAR exams. Results of the first testing in spring 2012 were not released until February 2013 when passing rates were established.

Although teachers were not as familiar with the new testing system, Liberty Hill Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun credited them for  helping students achieve at higher levels.

“We’ve been blind as to what was going to be on the test. We’ve been in the dark as to what the test looked like,” she said. Students showed “good content and application knowledge, and that can be attributed to our teachers.”

The elementary and middle school STAAR tests all students in reading and math, plus grades four and seven in writing, grades five and eight in science and grade eight in social studies.

Students at the high school level completed end-of-course (EOC) exams in English I and II reading and writing, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Biology and Chemistry, World Geography and World History.

Many Liberty Hill students who did not earn a passing score  are receiving additional instruction and will retake the test this summer.

Local passing rates above the 90th percentile were seen on third grade reading (90 percent), sixth grade math (91 percent), eighth grade reading (93 percent), seventh grade math (90 percent), eighth grade math (97 percent), eighth grade science (91 percent), English II reading EOC (90 percent), Algebra I EOC (90 percent), Geometry EOC (95 percent), Algebra II EOC (99 percent), Biology EOC (94 percent), and Chemistry EOC (93 percent).

Mrs. Braun said that while Liberty Hill’s writing scores were well above the state average and the average for Region 13 schools, she said the local high school passing rates that ranged from 71 percent for English II EOC to 73 percent for English I EOC should increase as teachers change the way they teach students to write.

“Concise and precise (is the new style of writing) as opposed to the elaborate writing we have been teaching,” she said.

“We are changing our instruction to meet expectations,” she said.

The statewide average on high school end-of-course writing was 48 percent for English I and 52 percent for English II.

Only in fifth grade science did Liberty Hill students score below the state average and below the average for Region 13 schools. The difference, however, was only one point below state and three points below region. Liberty Hill’s score was 72 percent compared to 73 percent for the state average and 75 percent in the region.

Mrs. Braun said a fifth grade teacher had to take a leave of absence during the school year, “and making that change is a hard thing to do with science.”

In August, teachers will have their first opportunity to see the STAAR tests and learn more about their students’ performance. With that information, Mrs. Braun said educators can better prepare students.

“We’ll be able to look at the (test) items and plan our practice tests and teach in the context of what is tested,” she said.