Texas School Districts Face Challenges With New STAAR Tests

Half of all Texas high schoolers taking the new end of course STAAR exams would have failed had the new standards been fully in place this spring during the practice test.

News 3 has the grades from several area districts and found out why educators still have a lot of concerns about the new tougher test.

College Station ISD students did relatively well on the new STAAR end of course exams with 95 percent passing the Algebra I test 100 percent Geometry and Algebra II.

However only 72 percent passed the English I writing test.

"We don't want to teach to a test. We want to make sure that our kids are taught in ways where they are learning what they are supposed to learn and yes we want to prepare them for a test," said College Station ISD Superintendent Eddie Coulson, Ed.D.

Coulson tell us he believes standardized testing is important, but he thinks the stakes are too high for this one.

"The most worrisome part about it is it's a high stakes test you know, "you put all your eggs in one basket from the states' perspective. That just doesn't make any good sense," he added.

Bryan ISD had a 77 percent passing rate for Algebra I, and 86 percent for Biology.

But only 57 percent passed the English Reading component and 42 percent Writing.

The Texas Education Agency expects scores to improve statewide as students and teachers become more familiar with the new tests.

"This test it's much more rigorous than the past testing programs and incorporates more college readiness standards and requires students to think at higher level critical thinking skills," said DeEtta Culbertson, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency.

Here's a sample question for Algebra I which asked,

"The sales tax rate at a clothing store is 8.75%. Sales tax on an item is a function of its price. Which of the following is the dependent quantity in this function?"

For those that get too many questions like this wrong schools districts are facing a continued burden of having to pay for remedial education to help students pass.

"It's not a burden in the sense that we want to meet the needs of the students but it's a burden in that terms of the money," said Coulson.

While this trial run may be over, full testing with higher stakes for students' grades starts next spring.

We also took a look at how several of our small districts in the region did on the STAAR test with results below.

Calvert ISD

Algebra I 71 percent passed, 29 percent failed
Biology 89 percent passed, 11 percent failed
English I Reading 38 percent passed, 62 percent failed
English Writing 50 percent passed, 50 percent failed
World Geography 63 percent passed, 37 percent failed

North Zulch ISD

Geometry 86% passed, 14% failed
Eng I Writing 50% passed, 50 % failed
Eng I Reading 67% passed, 33% failed
Algebra I 54% passed, 46% failed
Biology 94% passed, 6% failed
World Geography 83% passed, 17% failed
Chemistry 73% passed, 27 % failed

Mumford ISD
English 1 Reading 81 percent passed, 19 percent failed
English 1 Writing 81 percent passed, 19 percent failed
Algebra I 100 percent passed
Geometry 100 percent passed
World Geography 100 percent passed
Biology 100 percent passed

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