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Student credits extra tutoring with passing STAAR

By Carolina Astrain
July 11, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.
Updated July 12, 2013 at 2:12 a.m.


Math has always made Ashley Resendez nervous.

But this year, the Nursery school district third-grader got some help keeping her fear of numbers at bay.

Ashley was one of the 78 percent of students who passed the third-grade STAAR math exam at Nursery Elementary School.

"I was excited I made a really good grade because the first time I made a really bad grade," Ashley said. "I passed because of the extra tutoring I was getting."

In the fall, Ashley took a benchmark exam to practice for the spring STAAR reading and math exams.

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness starts testing students at the third-grade level and tests through the 12th grade.

The Nursery school district teaches kindergarten through fifth grades.

Ashley did well on the reading portion but did not pass the math in the fall, which led to her teacher providing additional tutorials for the STAAR, said Helen Resendez, Ashley's mother.

"She failed the first benchmark and passed the next one," Resendez said. "All their hard work really paid off."

On the test given in the spring, most of the school's passing percentages exceeded the state average, including fifth- and fourth-grade math, but some did fall short, according to the preliminary STAAR results from the Texas Education Agency.

Fourth-grade writing was one point under state average, and fifth-grade science was below by four points.

The areas that saw decreases from Nursery's passing percentages from last year included fourth-grade reading and writing, according to the state information.

Nursery superintendent Suzanne Bell said her district understands that accountability is important.

"The state assessment is a snapshot of how a child is doing one day of school," Bell said. "We want to emphasize good learning every day."

Teachers use the CSCOPE curriculum to teach mathematics and science and use Texas Journeys in the language arts department. They also use Istation, a computerized supplemental and intervention program, said Bell.

The tutorial program Ashley was a part of is called RTI, or Response to Intervention.

"With RTI, you look for early indicators and academic grades," Bell said. "And because we're a small school district, we get to know these kids really well."

The average student to teacher ratio in the classroom is 14:1, said Bell.

During her math tutorials, Ashley said her teacher, Jennifer Thibodeaux, used rhymes to help her remember math formulas.

"My daughter is a real worrier, so they didn't push it too hard because she would have stressed out," Resendez said. "I told her to do her best and let God do the rest."

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