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The State of Texas requires all public school students to take STAAR exams beginning in 3rd grade. Students take various tests including math and reading every year through 8th grade and then must pass 5 STAAR End of Course exams to graduate from high school. These high stakes tests are used for promotion at 5th and 8th grades as well as ratings established by the Texas Legislature. These scores from one 4 hour testing session will also now become the avenue for the State to "grade" each district and campus and assign an A-F grade beginning in 2018.
Mineola ISD believes that our students are more than a test score and that the value of our schools and benefits for our students go far beyond performance on one single test. In the 5 years of the new STAAR exam, the standards have increased with passing rates, the inclusion of special education student scores in the calculation, and many other factors. In 2016, the rating labels changed also: "Approaching" is the new passing label, "Meets" is the higher standard towards college readiness levels, and "Mastery" is the highest standard.
With the increased pressure and accountability, the natural tendency for teachers and campuses is to "teach to the test." We have made the decision in MISD that while STAAR is the game in which we must play, it is NOT our focus. Our teachers are working hard to personalize instruction for every child and use data to determine their strengths and areas for improvement within the curriculum standards given by the State to be covered in the classroom. Teachers use this data to set goals with the student and make plans for instruction for that student. Our belief is that if we individualize for every child and focus on student growth no matter their current level, the test scores will reflect the learning as opposed to drilling our students on test prep materials to meet the State standards.
We are therefore excited to see the scores from the first attempt of our students in grades 5 and 8 on their math and reading STAAR tests taken in April. Since 5th and 8th grade scores are required for promotion, students who were not successful at the "Approaching" level in April, will be retesting in May and potentially in June if needed. The chart below compares the first attempt this year compared with the first attempt in 2017. While these scores are NOT our focus, the hard work of our teachers and focus with our students on their growth in learning are reflected in the 1st administration scores in 2018 with not only the passing level (Approaching), but the higher standards of Meets and Masters. These scores also validate our focus that will continue to be on engaging our students in Mineola ISD on their growth as a learner and the support to them in setting goals, monitoring their progress and celebrating their successes in all areas of their education.
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