DeWitt County STAAR preliminary results
July 30, 2014 at 2:30 a.m.
DeWitt County educators will continue improving across the board in order to surpass the goals set for next year's State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.
Jim Haley, Cuero school district superintendent, said the district's results were about average this year.
"It's a mixed bag overall," he said. "It's hard to get a true reading whenever tests change, students change, and state standards change."
Haley said next year the state standards for mathematics will change again, meaning there won't be a benchmark to compare how the students are doing.
Teachers and the administration will continue striving for improvements in testing, he said. The district will continue focusing on project-based learning that doesn't directly impact the state assessments.
Project-based learning involves problem-solving skills applied to real-world issues, he said.
One such project was the hometown heroes project, which taught students about local heroes and why they are important. Other projects focused on the area's water woes, transportation and the effect of the Eagle Ford Shale.
"The emphasis on one assessment on one day is really detrimental to the overall direction of education in trying to meet the needs of a well-rounded student," he said about the testing. "We do so much more on the other 180 days out of the year. It's a real shame that so much is at stake for teachers, students and school district for this one assessment."
Interim Meyersville school district Superintendent Michael Lanier was unable to comment on the school's test results because he did not have access to the Texas Education Agency accounts.
Repeated attempts to reach the Nordheim school district were unsuccessful.
David Kennedy, Westhoff school district superintendent, said in a fax that the students' STAAR results were commendable.
He said high scores were a result of the support from the local board of trustees, who provided resources and guidance to give students the opportunity to be successful.
"The majority of our students can be successful on the test if they choose to," Kennedy said in the faxed statement.
The scores in the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade portions could use some improvement, he said.
"There is always room for improvement," Kennedy said. "We will continue to work in those areas until we are at 100 percent."
The teachers and staff have always done an excellent job at holding students accountable and preparing them for the test.
"Strategies that work for us include - but are not limited to - small breakout groups, mandatory tutorials and instilling a 'can-do' attitude in our students," he wrote in the statement.
Yoakum school district showed improvement in the reading and writing scores, including grades fourth through eighth.
Tom Kelley, superintendent for Yoakum school district, said the results were promising.
"We are extremely pleased with the tremendous gains of our test scores at all campuses," he said.
The success of the school district couldn't have been achieved without the combined efforts of teachers, staff and administration, who he said were all involved in the instruction of the district's students.
The district will continue to strive for overall academic gains and continue to focus on the few areas that need improvement, Kelley said.
"We understand the challenges of the rigorous STAAR tests, and we appreciate the support from our parents, school board and community as we continue to move forward with the new accountability standards," he said.
Sylvia Hernandez, director of curriculum and student services for the Yorktown school district, said scores overall exceed the state standard for the 2014 STAAR tests.
"Yorktown ISD reached 63 percent, but our goal is for students to reach higher levels of success," she said in an emailed statement.
Reading portions showed a large improvement this year, she said. Eighty percent of fourth-grade students met state standards, with 20 percent of those students earning an advanced passing level.
"The success in our reading scores are attributed to committed and experienced teachers. We also utilized the Istation program provided by TEA," Hernandez wrote in the email.
Interestingly, she said, the fourth-grade class did just as well in reading as the fifth-grade class did in the math portions of the STAAR tests. Eighty percent of the students met state standards during the first testing period, and 20 percent of those students earned advanced passing level.
The high school students did outstanding in U.S. History with 96 percent meeting state standards and 82 percent meeting standards in the English II portion of the testing.
The district required students to attend tutorial classes, which she believes prepared them for testing days through benchmark testing, and adjusted tutorial classes after each benchmark.
While the kids enjoy summer vacation, Hernandez said some of the math and science teachers received training through Region III.
"Our teachers and students will have new math and science textbooks that are aligned to the new STAAR test," she said. "We are looking to improve instruction through proven research programs designed to improve student learning."