Three of the five Transformation Waco schools that are part of an in-district charter system designed to improve student achievement showed gains in reading and math scores over last year’s state standardized test scores, according to preliminary data released Wednesday by the Texas Education Agency.
The preliminary test scores come a year after the TEA approved a plan between the Waco Independent School District and Prosper Waco, a nonprofit, to form Transformation Waco, an in-district charter partnership for the district’s five chronically underperforming schools. The first-of-its-kind partnership in the state shields the schools from closure for two years under Senate Bill 1882, which passed into law in 2017.
Three of those schools — Alta Vista Elementary School, Brook Avenue Elementary School and Indian Spring Middle School — showed improvement in their reading and math scores from last year. But the reading and math scores for both J.H. Hines Elementary School and G.W. Carver Middle School decreased from the previous school year.
Based on the preliminary data, Alta Vista Elementary School fifth graders made the biggest gains, with reading passing rates increasing by 18 percentage points to 62% passing. Eighth graders at Indian Spring Middle School showed the next biggest gains by increasing their math passing rate by 15 percentage points, up to 76%.
Hundreds of students in Transformation Waco schools chose to spend their spring breaks at school to sharpen their literacy and math skills in preparation for the state exams. Administrators selected about 90 students from each school who showed the most potential for improvement to attend the academy, bringing total participation to about 450 students in third through eighth grades.
District spokesman Kyle DeBeer said it is unclear how the standardized test scores will impact the district’s accountability rating. Final STAAR scores and accountability ratings will be released by the state in August.
2019 STAAR results — Waco ISD
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TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said the preliminary scores give school districts an opportunity to vet the data and ensure they reported student scores and information correctly to the state.
Waco ISD’s overall scores for fifth grade reading and math did not vary much from the previous year, nor did the eighth grade reading and math scores. The biggest difference was an increase in eighth grade math scores, which rose from 64% passing last school year to 72% passing this school year. Eighth grade reading scores went up, as well, from 67% to 68%.
Waco ISD fifth graders passed the reading test at 63%, the same passing rate as last year, but their math test passing rate dipped from 72% to 70%.
DeBeer said the district is still in the process of analyzing the data and breaking it down to look at it on the individual student level. He said while campus and district trends can be meaningful, the district would rather focus on more “granular” data.
“Our mission is really down to the individual students,” he said. “If you think about a classroom teacher, it’s not ‘all of these kids in my class need the same thing.’ It tends to be a much more individualized approach to instruction.”
Likewise, Midway ISD’s fifth grade reading scores remained steady, dropping slightly from 91% passing to 90%. Math scores for fifth grade also dipped a percentage point from the previous year, down to 93% passing.
Midway eighth graders passed the reading test at 90%, up from 89% the previous year. A greater percentage of eighth graders passed the math test this year at 88%, up from 82% last year.
No Midway administrators were available for comment Wednesday.
2019 STAAR results — Waco area districts
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