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Lavaca County STAAR preliminary results

By Jessica Priest
July 20, 2014 at 2:20 a.m.


Lavaca County educators are studying their preliminary State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness results. Here's how they fared and what they hope to improve next school year:

Vysehrad

Vysehrad Superintendent Jason Appelt is most proud of 100 percent of his students meeting the state standards on the writing tests in fourth and seventh grade.

Teachers of all subjects assigned more papers and opted for essay question tests over multiple choice question tests to prepare students for STAAR, he said.

"The more practice, the better - no matter what subject it's in," he said.

The preliminary STAAR results also showed 100 percent of Vysehrad students had met the standards in eighth-grade reading, math and algebra I.

The score in seventh grade reading declined from 100 to 67, though.

"When you're as small as we are - even if one kid doesn't pass it - with percentages, it kind of skews it," Appelt said.

There are about 120 students enrolled at Vysehrad ISD, a kindergarten through eighth grade district.

The teachers, some of whom wear multiple hats, will continue to inspire students, he said.

"If you motivate them to where they are trying all year long, it will show on the test," he said.

Appelt is also principal, coach and a teacher of fifth and sixth grade history.

He came from Hallettsville ISD about four years ago.

"This keeps you in tune to what teachers are going through in the classroom every day. Being out of the classroom, it's a whole different perspective," Appelt said.

Moulton

Moulton ISD continues to take its students from good to great, Superintendent Jennifer Hranitzky said.

She pointed to two distinctions earned this year after the preliminary STAAR results came in.

Moulton High School was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Texas Education Agency as a high progress reward school.

A high progress school is a Title I school in the top 25 percent in annual improvement and/or a school in the top 25 percent of those demonstrating the ability to close performance gaps based on federal expectations.

Both campuses were also distinguished as high-performing reward schools, which is a Title I school that performed well in reading and math.

A Title I school has a high concentration of students from low-income families, Hranitzky said.

Only three other schools in the region have the latter distinction. They are Goliad Middle School, Shiner High School and Vickers Elementary in Victoria.

Hranitzky said the district owed its success partly to the teachers, who based their curriculum on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, created by the State Board of Education.

The teachers also focused on extending students' vocabulary and writing skills.

"They did very well last year, so they just kept doing what they knew was working. They're all a team, and that makes everything positive," Hranitzky said.

The scores were lower in eighth-grade math and science, which were 74 and 65 percent, respectively, "but the same teacher who had those lower scores in science also had a greater than 96 percent success rate with biology," Hranitzky said.

The data gives the district a good starting point for next year.

Then, the math STAAR test is expected to change.

"It's a living system of adjustments to know what will work with the kids. Each year, you have a new batch of kids moving up," Hranitzky said.

Sweet Home

Sweet Home ISD Superintendent Randy Meyer is pleased with his students' progress on the STAAR exam.

The district will fine-tune its curriculum so two years later, when the state raises the passing standards, it won't have to play catch-up.

"We really want our kids to be able to grasp those higher-level thinking skills," he said. "Sometimes, you have to take information and convert it, and that's tough."

Preliminary results showed that fifth- and sixth-grade reading soared into the 90s while fourth-grade math scores went down 11 percentage points.

Meyer stressed the STAAR is just a small reflection on how students are doing.

"Because we're a small school, one student may count as 9 or 10 percentage points," he said. "They can be deceptive."

About 147 students are enrolled in Sweet Home ISD, which teaches pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

"I think we have a strong recipe for success. We have students who give us everything they've got; we have parents who support us and teachers who are phenomenal. That's why we do so well," Meyer continued.

Shiner

Shiner ISD Superintendent Trey Lawrence was ecstatic about the preliminary STAAR results for the end-of-course exams.

The district had 100 percent of students meet state standards in algebra I and biology, 92 percent in English II and 97 percent in U.S. history.

"The lowest one was 89 percent (in English I), and that's pretty awesome," Lawrence said.

The district needs to improve its scores in third-grade reading and math, which were both 73, as well as boost the numbers in social studies and science at the eighth-grade level, he said.

He said they'll evaluate the curriculum to pinpoint why some scores went down.

"Overall, we were very pleased," Lawrence said.

Ezzell

Students in third, fourth and fifth grades at Ezzell ISD excelled at the STAAR test.

Preliminary results show 100 percent of students met state standards in reading, math and writing.

Teachers are able to provide individual attention to struggling students because the district has small class sizes, said Kari DeForest, district testing coordinator.

"We keep them after school, we work with them extra during the day, and we do what it takes to try to get them prepared for the test," DeForest said.

DeForest said Ezzell students must improve in eighth-grade science, for which 75 percent met standards, and eighth-grade social studies, for which 50 percent met standards.

The STAAR test forces students to answer why rather than just recite facts.

"It's a lot more higher level thinking," DeForest said. "We appreciate all the hard work given by the staff and students as well as the board members."

Hallettsville

Hallettsville ISD Superintendent Jo Ann Bludau is pleased with the district's progress and wants to raise the bar even higher by focusing on writing next school year.

Although the district scored lower in math, science and social studies, many students met or surpassed the state average.

The end-of-course exams continue to be above the state average, Bludau said.

That's due in part to the hard-working teachers and instructional staff, some of whom will be headed to a conference in August.

There, they'll bring back more learning tools to share. The district will also seek advice from neighboring districts who did well on their STAAR exams.

"Obviously, I think collaboration and teamwork are critical to seeing successes in the classroom, at the campus level and at the district level," Bludau said.

She appreciated the students' hard work and school board's and community's support.

"We will continue to do our best to help the students succeed here in the district and beyond," she said.

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