The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has recently released the 2022 student assessment results on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and they are revealing in several ways. Governor Greg Abbott was recently challenged by Politifact to validate his claim that the Texas high school graduation rate is at 90% overall, ranking the state among the top five. Well, the good news is that Politifact found this claim to be true, but one must dig a little deeper for the complete story, which is that the more meaningful measure of student success is postsecondary readiness (PSR). This is defined as the range of academic, workforce, and social proficiency that high school students should acquire to successfully transition to skilled employment, advanced military training, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or industry certification, without the need for remediation. A useful proxy for this standard is community college readiness without the need for remediation.
Using the “meets standard” designation as a proxy for PSR as measured by student performance on the five STAAR end of course exams necessary for graduation (Algebra I, Biology, English I and II, and U. S. History) reveals statewide passing percentages for these exams of 46%, 57%, 48%, 57%, and 71%, respectively. Granted, to be fair, passing rates on three of the exams improved over the previous year and there are signs of movement back to the pre-pandemic results, but even at that level there remains a significant overall gap between graduating and doing so at the college, career, and military readiness level. After all, the effective high school graduation standard is Algebra I and English II! And the last time I looked at the data point, approximately 50% of Texas high school graduates entering community colleges were required to take at least one remedial course. We can and must do better.
The TEA is currently implementing changes that supposedly will require STAAR to be redesigned to more properly reflect current curriculum standards. Let’s hope so. And while we are at it we will need much more rigor with educator accountability to match in order to meet the expectations we have for our kids.
Sandy Kress says
As with the 8th grade reading scores in 2019 (which were shown by NAEP to be grossly inflated), I suggest we wait for this year’s NAEP before we jump to the conclusion that we’ve returned to pre-pandemic achievement levels in reading. In math, it’s clear we still lag badly.
The bottom line: Texas has been flat-to-mostly down in k-12 achievement since its policymakers lowered standards and eviscerated accountability beginning a decade or so ago.
To illustrate the loss, in 2011, black 8th graders had risen so significantly since 1990 that they were – for the first time in history – essentially ready to do high school math. By 2019, they had lost over a grade level of that achievement gain and were increasingly unprepared again.
We need to change course – and badly. It would be terrific if we restored (and improved) the policies that were tossed aside a decade ago. But, even better, let’s move to give parents choice and bust up the bureaucracy that’s stifles student success.
Danny Billingsley says
I agree school choice for all parents and their kids should be available. I’m guessing how to structure that and pay for it would be the big political fight I believe it’s pretty obvious kids afforded the opportunity to attend charter schools, church schools, private schools and home school, on the whole, outperform kids attending most public schools. My small family business pays $25,000 per year property taxes to our local school district and there is not a lot to show for it. A lot of brick and mortar, athletic facilities and other bells and whistles, but low academics achievement.
Jim Windham says
We hear your story many times on a daily basis, Danny. It’s time to fix the problem. Go to libertyforthekids.org and sign up.
Tim Phillips says
Need to force the vote for parental school vouchers that can be invested in any and all schools of their choice – preferably Classical Christian schools that teach critical thinking skills. To learn more encourage the reading of “Battle for the American Mind”. It not only cites the litany of problems with government schools, but provides the solution.