After a week-long delay “to accommodate additional analyses on the data,” the Texas Education Agency released student performance assessment results for grades 3-8 that show “across-the-board improvements in all grades and subjects from 2021, with significant gains in reading.”

Yet statewide student performance levels as measured by the standardized tests remain uninspiring.

TEA released the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results on Friday.

The results include Spring 2022 exams in mathematics and reading for grades 3–8, 5th and 8th grade science, and 8th grade social studies.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath credited “investments that the state is making in reading academies and accelerated instruction,” as well as “the hard work of teachers across our state,” for the improved results.

Education reform legislation passed in 2019 now requires all K-3 teachers to attend a Reading Academy to master the “science of teaching reading.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill to help students struggling with learning losses from COVID closures, entitling those who don’t pass the standardized tests to receive 30 hours of “targeted tutoring” for each subject they didn’t pass.

The bill also eliminated the 5th and 8th grade promotion requirements associated with STAAR.

“While we still have much work to do to recover from COVID-related learning loss in mathematics, the improvements our students have made in reading are clear,” Morath added.

Reading results for all grades showed significant improvements over last year and even surpassed pre-pandemic performances.

Despite the upticks, the percentage of students whose reading performance “Meets Grade Level ranges from 42 to 56 percent, indicating about half of students “may still need some short-term, targeted academic intervention” to succeed in the next grade.

Just 22 to 36 percent tested at “Masters Grade Level,” a rating that indicates students are “expected to succeed in the next grade or course with little or no academic intervention.”

Overall, nearly half of all students in grades 3-8 are reading below grade level.

In math, more than half of all students tested below grade level; less than a quarter mastered grade-level math.

The results were scheduled to be released on June 24, but TEA advised parents last week they would be delayed until July 1.

TEA’s statement Friday said the agency “conducted additional analysis on this year’s data as part of an enhanced due diligence process.”

Results of Spring 2022 End of Course assessments for high school students, released June 16, showed modest progress in the three tests that saw a decline during COVID-19, though ratings did not return to pre-pandemic levels.

Still, overall performance levels were dismal, with only 23 to 44 percent of students showing grade-level mastery of the subjects tested.

STAAR tests are set to be redesigned in the 2022-23 school year to better align with classroom instruction and reduce “teaching to the test.”

Many Texas parents, teachers, and lawmakers have called for eliminating the STAAR tests, which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to administer each year and do not adequately assess students’ academic performance.

More information about all state-level STAAR test results can be found on the TEA website.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.