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Area students mostly above state peers in preliminary STAAR scores

By Bridget Ortigo
April 29, 2017 at 4 a.m.


East Texas students mostly came in above their state counterparts on preliminary state standardized test results for fifth- and eighth-grades, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Harrison County students' preliminary scores on the first administration of STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) testing for fifth- and eighth-grades in math and reading show they came in slightly above state averages, except for Marshall, Waskom and Jefferson ISDs, which mostly came in below state averages.

Hallsville and Harleton ISDs as well as Panola College's Texas Early College High School all came in above the state's passing percentages for each grade and subject area compared to students across the state.

Harleton ISD posted the area's highest fifth-grade reading scores with 85 percent of its fifth-graders passing the test compared to 71 percent across the state. Eighty-five percent of the districts fifth-graders passed the math test, compared to 81 percent across the state. For the district's eighth-grade, 82 percent passed reading and 78 percent passed math.

In eighth-grade math, Hallsville ISD posted the area's highest scores in eighth-grade math with 92 percent of its eighth-graders passing the test compared to 74 percent across the state. Ninety-two percent of the district's fifth-graders also passed the math portion. In reading, 79 percent of the district's fifth-graders passed while 80 percent of eighth-graders passed.

Area preliminary STAAR scores

Area preliminary STAAR passing percentages for first administration of fifth- and eighth-grade math and reading.

Elysian Fields ISD posted the area's highest fifth-grade passing percentages in math with 93 percent of its students. The district's fifth-graders did not meet the state's average for reading with 70 percent of its students passing compared to 71 percent across the state. The district's eighth-graders passed state averages with 79 percent passing math and 81 percent passing reading.

Texas Early College High School posted the area's highest eighth-grade reading scores with 88 percent of its students passing compared to 76 percent across the state. The school, which only houses grades eighth through twelfth, also posted a 77 percent passing rate in eighth-grade math.

Karnack ISD results showed a mixed bag with with both of the districts fifth- and eighth-grade students coming in below state averages in reading but above state averages in math. Forty-two percent of its fifth-graders passed the reading test while 75 percent passed math. In eighth-grade, 69 percent passed reading while 88 percent passed math.

Marshall ISD scores all came in below state averages for every grade and test subject.

Just 49 percent of the district's fifth-graders passed reading while 62 percent of its eighth-graders passed. At Price T. Young Middle School, 47 percent of fifth-graders passed reading while 51 percent passed at Sam Houston Middle School.

In math, 55 percent of Marshall ISD fifth-graders passed while only 35 percent of eighth-graders passed. At Price T. Young Middle School, half of fifth-graders passed the math test while at Sam Houston Middle School, 59 percent of fifth-graders passed.

At Jefferson ISD, eighth-graders came in below state averages in both reading and math with 65 percent passing reading and 47 percent passing math. Fifth-graders showed 71 percent passing reading, meeting the state average, while 69 percent passed math, coming in below state average.

At Waskom ISD, fifth-graders came in below state averages in both reading and math with 60 percent passing reading and 55 percent passing math. For the district's eighth-graders, 76 percent passed reading and 62 percent passed math.

This year marks the first year the TEA is trying out a new grading system.

"Beginning this school year, parents will be seeing new STAAR performance labels for their student: Masters Grade Level; Meets Grade Level; Approaches Grade Level; and Does Not Meet Grade Level. These do not represent any changes to the underlying definitions of performance, but are meant to provide clear, accurate information for parents in terms of how their child is performing," the agency wrote in a statement.

"Masters" grade level means the student came in well above passing while "Meets grade level" means the student is performing on par for his or her grade level. "Approaches grade level" means the student is not performing at his or her appropriate grade level but the student is still considered to have passed the test. "Does not meet grade level" means the student is not performing at his or her grade level and did not pass the test.

Fifth- and eighth-grade students must pass the STAAR reading and math tests to move up to the next grade, according to state law.

Students who did not pass either or both of the first administration of these exams will be able to retake the tests in mid-May and will have a third chance in June.

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