At least 70 percent of Houston Independent School District fifth- and eighth-graders passed STAAR reading and math exams this year, according to preliminary numbers from the Texas Education Agency. On the math test, a slight majority of the eighth-graders, 51 percent, who passed with minimum scores last year, passed with scores well above the minimum this year.
Overall, the most significant improvements on the STAAR exams were seen among students who attend some of the district’s lowest-performing elementary and middle schools: Blackshear, Dogan, Highland Heights, Mading, Wesley and Woodson elementary schools, along with Patrick Henry Middle School.
Fifty-three percent of fifth-graders at those schools passed reading, compared with 45 percent last year, a gain of eight percentage points. Sixty percent passed math, a significant increase of 10 percentage points over last year.
Among eighth-graders at Henry Middle School, 55 percent passed reading this year compared with 49 percent last year, and 67 percent passed math, a huge increase of 20 percentage points over the 47 percent who passed last year.
“We deployed a lot of personnel and resources to those campuses to make significant headway in bridging the achievement gap,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “I am extremely proud of the principals, teachers, staff, students, and parents for working hard to make these significant strides. We have more work to do, however, and we will continue until our mission that every child shows progress is successfully completed.”
Students can receive one of four performance levels on STAAR tests: Did Not Meet grade level – failed, Approaches grade level – passed, Meets grade level – passed at a higher level, and Masters grade level -passed at the highest level.
On the STAAR reading exam, 25 percent of all HISD fifth-graders scored at the Masters level, compared with 22 percent last year. On the math exam, 34 percent of fifth-graders scored at the Masters level, compared with 27 percent last year.
The percentage of HISD eighth-graders who passed reading this year at the Meets level rose from 42 percent to 47 percent. Eighth-graders who passed math at the Meets level, rose from 40 percent to 45 percent.
Looking at results by ethnicity, eighth-grade African-American students posted big gains. Thirty-eight percent scored at the Meets level in math, up nine percentage points over last year, and 39 percent scored at the Meets level in reading, up seven percentage points. Sixty-eight percent of the eighth-graders passed math at the Approaches level, compared with 62 percent last year. African-American fifth-graders made gains at the Masters level with 18 percent achieving the score in reading, up three percentage points, and 19 percent reaching the Masters level in math, up four percentage points.
Eighth-grade Asian students made significant gains this year on the reading test. Results show 63 percent of them scored at the Masters level, up six percentage points, and 81 percent scored at the Meets level, also up six percentage points.
Hispanic students made notable gains also, with 33 percent of fifth-graders scoring at the Masters level in math, up seven percentage points over last year. Forty-three percent of eighth-graders scored at the Meets level in the subject, up three percentage points. On the reading exam, 20 percent of Hispanic fifth-graders achieved the Masters level, up two percentage points, and 42 percent of eighth-graders achieved the Meets level, up three percentage points.
Among Anglo students, the biggest gain was on the fifth-grade math exam, with 60 percent scoring at the Masters level, compared to 52 percent last year. Fifty-seven percent of fifth-grade students scored at the Masters level in reading, compared to 52 percent last year, and 78 percent of eighth-graders scored at the Meets level in reading, compared to 75 percent last year.
HISD English Language learners exhibited some noticeable improvements in test scores this year. Twenty-four percent of fifth-graders in the group scored at the Masters level in math, compared to 19 percent last year. Twenty-seven percent of eighth-graders scored at the Meets level in math, compared to 24 percent last year. On the reading test, 39 percent of eighth-graders passed at the Approaches level, compared to 33 percent last year.
Approximately 17,000 HISD fifth-graders and 13,000 eighth-graders took the spring 2019 STAAR reading and math exams. Students who did not pass were given a second opportunity to test in mid-May in order to be promoted to the next grade. A third test opportunity is available June 25th and 26th after summer school.