Waco ISD's preliminary STAAR results are out. The school board met last night to discuss the standardized test results for grades 3 through 12. Some schools showed improvements, but others, especially schools serving low-income areas, faced setbacks.
Last year, nine Waco ISD campuses didn't meet the state standards on the STAAR test. Coming into this year, administrators set goals to improve scores across the district.
"The improvement fluctuated," said Kim Ellis, Waco ISD's Executive Director of Curriculum.
"We had some areas of our lower performing schools such as Brook Avenue, with their math scores, who went from 13 percent last year to 37 percent this year."
And at Waco ISD high schools, Biology, Algebra and US History all showed improvement. So did areas like 4th grade writing. Ellis told the board last night this had to do with creating a consistent curriculum and structure, something she wants to achieve for all subject levels at all campuses.
"We're extremely happy with some areas," Ellis said. "We've got a lot of work to do in others. And my main focus is a consistency that we're being able to identify our struggles and exactly where we need to improve."
However according to this year's results, the district remains below average for meeting state STAAR standards. And schools that performed low last year like JH Hines Elementary, performed even lower in some subject areas this year.
President of the Board Pat Atkins says there isn't quantifiable data to explain why schools performed the way they did yet, but the board did hear a few possible reasons.
"There were a number of examples, anecdotal examples, where we had teachers leave during the year, so there was a long term substitute," said Atkins. "There was also a discussion about first year teachers that maybe need to grow accustomed to the district curriculum."
Other setbacks discussed at the meeting included schools that performed higher last year like Lake Air Montessori, who performed lower this year. This is something Ellis believes is a curriculum problem.
"We're also working to improve the rigor," said Ellis. "And the level of rigor by putting in place the pacing guides, stronger focus on what needs to be taught and when."
Other issues touched on included the ongoing behavioral challenges several of the district's schools are facing, as well as teacher retention and the poverty rate within the district.