UPDATED June 27 with TEA’s revised release date for STAAR grades 3-8 results.

In what the state’s public education agency called “a welcome sign that Texas students are moving in the right direction in their post-pandemic academic recovery,” results of the latest student performance assessments show modest progress in the three tests that saw a decline during COVID-19.

Still, statewide student performance levels as measured by the standardized tests remain dismal.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency released State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results from Spring 2022 for end-of-course (EOC) assessments for high school students.

“We have made some progress to date, but there is still work to be done to fully recover from the academic effects of the COVID slide,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement accompanying the results.

Results include assessments in Algebra I, biology, English I, English II, and U.S history.

The 2022 performance scores for algebra, biology, and history rebounded slightly from last year, but not to pre-COVID levels.

Yet only 23-44 percent of students 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.”

English scores remained relatively flat from 2019 to 2022. (Spring 2020 testing was canceled due to COVID.) Only 9-11 percent of students demonstrated mastery on those STAAR tests.

To help students struggling with learning losses due to COVID closures, lawmakers passed House Bill 4545 last year. The bill entitles students who don’t pass the standardized tests to receive 30 hours of “targeted tutoring” before, during, or after school for each subject they didn’t pass; or they will be assigned to a classroom overseen by a certified master, exemplary, or recognized teacher.

But a teacher shortage has made it next to impossible for districts to fulfill this obligation to their students.

To graduate, students must pass the STAAR EOC assessments, score high enough on a substitute exam, or meet the requirements of an individual graduation committee.

STAAR results for grades 3-8 were scheduled to be released on June 24, but TEA advised parents that the release was delayed “to accommodate additional analyses on the data” and that results are “tentatively scheduled to be available” by July 1.

Recent changes to state law mean those results are informational only; students who fail are not required to repeat a grade.

TEA said STAAR will be redesigned in the 2022-23 school year to better align with classroom instruction and eliminate instruction directed solely toward test preparation (a change required by House Bill 3906, passed in 2019).

Many Texas parents, teachers, and lawmakers want more significant change and 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.

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.