STAAR data sheds light on widening educational achievement gaps in Texas schools
AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Education Agency has released the results of the latest statewide standardized exams, with lower scores revealing the pandemic’s toll on students statewide. In particular, the agency’s demographics indicated a widening academic gap and disparity between students of color and economically disadvantaged students.
Across most grade levels, demographics and subjects, the number of students not reaching their grade level increased from 2019 to 2021. TEA data highlights that school districts that reported more distance learners this year scored lower than districts with a higher number of in-person students.
The TEA report also assessed the race and socioeconomic status of the students, relative to their scores.
According to STAAR data for economically disadvantaged children, there was a 6% drop in the number of children who scored close to, equal to or above their grade level in reading in 2021, compared to 2019 scores.
Among their non-economically disadvantaged peers, there was only a 3% drop. The disparity was even sharper in math scores: there was a 20% drop in the number of children who scored close to, equal to or above their grade level in 2021, compared to 2019. Among their non-economically disadvantaged students, there was a drop of only 9%.
The number of African American and Hispanic students who score near, equal to or above their grade level in math and reading has also declined at a higher rate than that of white students, especially in schools where the majority of children learn virtually.
Community activist and former Austin ISD administrator Paul Saldaña said he was not surprised, given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on minority communities.
“If you look at the data, we accounted for the majority of cases, the highest positivity rates and unfortunately the highest number of deaths,” he explained.
He said this was the reason many people of color chose to keep their children at home, despite other challenges the decision brought with it, such as access to WiFi and high internet. flow or school support systems.
“Unfortunately, sometimes the kids were left at home because mom or dad or both had to work,” he said.
Saldaña also highlighted the significant portion of Austin’s ISD children who belong to the “economically disadvantaged” group.
Saldaña calls on school districts in Texas to provide more comprehensive services to these children, such as before or after school programs and tutoring programs.
Due to the passage of House Bill 4545 in this year’s legislative session, any student who has not met their grade level requirements will receive tailored tutoring to upgrade. Districts are required to provide it by their most qualified teachers, and the TEA said it will work with districts to provide strong teaching materials and additional support for teachers.
“How will fairness drive these decisions? ” He asked. “There is a perception that our black and brown children are not able to succeed in school and that is just not true. We can no longer be content with the status quo.
Cuitlahuac Guerra-Mojarro, a parent and teacher at AISD, told KXAN he was not surprised his fifth-grade student was nervous about the math section of the state’s standardized test, after have spent most of the year learning virtually.
“He generally does very well in reading and writing, and struggles with the math test,” he said.
Still, Guerra-Mojarro is not worried. In fact, he knows this is a growing opportunity for his son.
“The point of learning is not to get good results on a test. The purpose of learning is to grow, ”he said.