Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to date with the most essential news from Texas.
After education disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic sent Texas students’ standardized test scores plummeting, their performance is beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels in three areas, according to published test results Thursday by the Texas Education Agency.
But their scores in all areas remain lower than they were before the pandemic.
The agency released the scores of high school students who took Texas state academic readiness assessments this spring. High school students take these exams to graduate. They include subjects such as Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and United States History.
Students improved in three tests that saw declines in 2021 due to the pandemic. In Algebra 1, 46% of students reached grade level, an increase of 5 percentage points from Spring 2021, but still a decrease of 16 points from Spring 2019.
In biology, 57% of students reached grade level, a 3-point increase from spring 2021. But that’s still 6 points lower than spring 2019 levels. In United States history, 71% of students reached grade level this spring, an increase of 2 points from spring 2021, but still 4 points lower than spring 2019 results.
The agency released results for two other secondary school subjects, English I and II, but those results remained largely the same. In English I, 49% of students reached grade level in 2019, and that number is 48% for this year. In English II, scores increased from 2019. In 2019, 51% of students reached grade level, and that number rose to 57% in 2022.
Texas students in grades three through 12 are taking the STAAR tests, and results for grades 3 through 8 will be released on June 24.
“These results provide encouraging evidence that the academic stimulus plans passed by the Texas Legislature and implemented by our state’s 370,000 dedicated teachers are working for our students,” the agency’s commissioner said. Education of Texas, Mike Morath, in the press release. “We have made progress to date, but there is still work to be done to fully recover from the academic effects of the COVID slide.”
The first signs of improvement come as educators feared the effects of the ongoing pandemic could once again negatively impact scores as schools weathered delta and omicron waves over the past school year. The results also come as Texas public schools will be graded based on students’ STAAR score for the first time since the pandemic began.
STAAR was canceled in 2020, but brought back in 2021, and it showed students who did most of their schooling remotely were experiencing “significant declines”.
In the press release, Morath credited House Bill 4545 with helping students get back on track. The measure, which the Texas legislature passed last year, required schools to provide students with 30 hours of targeted instruction based on the number of STAAR subjects a student had failed in the spring of 2021.
Not everyone was a fan of the legislation. Some said it’s the best way to support children who have battled the pandemic while others think it’s just another burden placed on schools that are already struggling to recruit teachers in a classroom.
Join us September 22-24 in person in downtown Austin for the Texas Tribune Festival and experience over 100 conversational events featuring big names you know and some you should know around the worlds. from politics, public policy, media and technology – all hosted by The Texas Tribune’s award-winning journalists. To buy tickets.