By Dana Delgado
For the second straight year, Liberty Hill ISD fifth and eighth grade students outperformed the state average in reading and math on the 2017 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), the state mandated assessment.
“We’re seeing consistent patterns and we’re so proud of our kids,” said Toni Hicks, LHISD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability. “We want to celebrate what we’re doing but continue working towards mastery.”
Hicks said the school district’s goal is higher than the state minimum because of anticipated increases in the state passing standard.
“Mastery,” the highest performance level on the STAAR, shows that students are expected to succeed in the next grade or course with little or no academic intervention. “Meets Grade Level,” indicates that the student will have a high likelihood of success in the next grade or course but may still need some short-term, targeted academic intervention. “Approaches Grade Level” is also a passing performance level, but is a sign that a student is likely to succeed in the next grade or course with target interventions. “Does Not Meet Grade Level” is the lowest performance level and indicates that the student is unlikely to succeed in the next grade or course without significant, ongoing academic intervention.
In fifth grade reading, 80 percent of LHISD students met progress on the state assessment
in comparison to the state’s 71 percent overall showing.
Liberty Hill’s performance is a decrease from 88 percent in 2016, but still surpassed the state.
In fifth grade math, LHISD had 88 percent meeting progress, up from 84 percent in 2016 while the state improved from 76 percent in 2016 to 81 percent this year.
In eighth grade, students in Liberty Hill accounted for 89 percent and 88 percent meeting progress in reading and math respectively, while the state average came in at 76 percent in reading and 74 percent in math. The eighth grade reading percent reflects a 3 percent drop from a year ago for both the state and LHISD. In math, the state improved by 5 percentage points from 2016 while Liberty Hill fell 2 percentage points this year.
The recently released results by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) reflect the first administration of the fifth and eighth grade math and reading STAAR. Students have three opportunities to meet progress, the acceptable state passing standard. The second test administration was earlier this week.
Hicks reports that 13 percent and 11 percent of LHISD eighth graders did not meet progress in the initial math and reading assessments respectively, and had to retest.
In fifth grade, 20 percent of the students did not meet the reading standard and had to participate in the second test administration while only 12 percent were required to retake the math portion. The third administration, if necessary, is scheduled for the end of June. Final district results are expected in August from the TEA.
“We’ve got work to do,” said Hicks. “Our kids need to have quality experiences.”
Hicks said she personally met with each teacher before the test administrations began to underscore the district’s goal and remarked that specific “push-in” services and interventions are being provided to students between the administrations who have not met the standard. “Push-in” services involve the regular teacher providing direct support in the classroom of the specific content (reading or math) teacher instead of pulling the student out for assistance and having them miss their regular instruction.
Hicks further said that campus administrators have eagerly embraced the professional development culture that supports the growth of each student and provides for improved intra-teacher consultation and sharing with a creative master schedule.
“Our teachers are hungry for resources,” said Hicks. “The great thing about our teachers is that they give their heart and soul. You can see it on the kids’ faces as they succeed. We just need to continue to support our teachers so they can reach their goals. It will be a process, but we are truly excited.”
Hicks emphasized that STAAR results are only one source of data.
“We need to celebrate the learning and look at other data points,” she said. “The biggest thing we’re proud of is that we continue to out produce the state.”