Learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic increased the number of Texas students not meeting grade-level proficiency across all subject areas and grade levels, according to “disheartening” data released today by the Texas Education Agency.

On Monday, the TEA released students’ scores on the spring 2021State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, known as the STAAR test. 

Test scores revealed districts with a higher percentage of students learning virtually experienced greater learning declines in all grades and subjects, while outcomes for in-person learners were higher.

“When students come into Texas public schools, they are well-served by Texas educators—a fact that these scores confirm,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath:

But it is also painfully clear that the pandemic had a very negative impact on learning. I shudder to consider the long-term impact on children in states that restricted in-person instruction. 


Now, we have full assessment results in hand for nearly all Texas students. The data may be disheartening, but with it, our teachers and school leaders are building action plans to support students in the new school year. Policymakers are using it to direct resources where they are needed most. 

The subject to see the most drastic decline was mathematics. 

Based on the information from the TEA, reading scores for grades 3-8 showed that 47 percent met grade level, a 4 percent decrease from 2019 to 2021. In grades 3-8 mathematics and Algebra I, however, scores dropped from 50 percent of students meeting grade level to only 35 percent in 2021—a 15-point drop.  

Remote learners had a 32 percent decrease in math scores from 2019 to 2021, compared with only a 9 percent drop for students who received in-person instruction.  

The TEA has shared a side-by-side comparison of STAAR test results from 2019 and 2021. 

Morath said parents can log into TexasAssessment.gov to find out how well their children learned this year’s material and how to support their academic growth moving forward.

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.