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Kilgore ISD school board trustees, faculty and staff reviewed STAAR standardized test results and end-of-course test results for the 2020-2021 school year at Monday’s board meeting and discussed tools the district is using to help students learn.

Zevely Hatcher, KISD’s Executive Director of Student Learning and Special Programs, told trustees Kilgore students met the “approaches grade level” target, considered to be a passing grade on the standardized tests, at a rate comparable to state and local results.

“Looking at all students in all grades and in all tests, we are toe-to-toe with the state (at 66 percent). Region 7 is at 70 percent, we’re at 66 percent, so I feel pretty good about that,” Hatcher said.

Region 7 serves 95 school districts, seven charter schools, and 13,305 square miles in 17 East Texas counties.

Test scores were down statewide, including some in Kilgore, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many students switched to online, remote learning instead of on-campus instruction. Statewide, STAAR reading results dropped from 48 percent of students who met grade level standards in 2019 to 43 percent in 2021, a 5 percent decrease. STAAR math results dropped statewide from 52 percent of students meeting grade level standards in 2019 to 35 percent in 2021, a 17 percent decrease.

Overall test participation was down as well. According to Texas Education Agency, this year, 85 percent of eligible students participated in grades 3-8 STAAR assessments, as compared to 96 percent in 2019. In high school, 92 percent of eligible students participated in EOC assessments, as compared to 97 percent in 2019. Overall STAAR participation in spring 2021 was 87 percent.

Hatcher said KISD makes a wide variety of resources available to teachers to help them keep students progressing throughout the school year and to identify particular concepts or individual students who may need additional attention.

“We are drilling down at every level. From the big district picture all the way down to the individual student. That’s our goal, is to talk about individual kids,” she said.

“We have given (teachers) a lot in the way of resources and training. You might do something different every day, depending on what you’re teaching.”

KISD teachers have access to the TEKS Resource System and TEKS Guides, a series of training documents and materials for teachers to understand exactly what students must learn and understand to succeed on standardized tests.

Kilgore teachers also use pacing tools to know how many days to spend on each concept. KISD’s database management system, DMAC, allows them to generate reports and information on STAAR readiness, preparation and results from the district level all the way to individual students. KISD also uses state-adopted instructional materials in guided reading assignments.

A TEA press release notes scores and assessment results dropped significantly compared to 2019 results due to major disruptions caused throughout the 2020-2021 school year. STAAR tests and other exams were cancelled in 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many students spent the 2020-2021 school year in remote learning or in person with social distancing and mask mandates in place.

“As a result of the learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of students not meeting grade level increased from 2019 across all subject areas and grade levels, with English I and English II being the only exceptions,” TEA said.

“As a subject area, mathematics reflects the largest decline in proficiency across all grade levels. Districts with a higher percentage of students learning virtually experienced a greater degree of declines. Districts with the highest percentage of in-person learners largely avoided any learning declines in reading.”

Additional information on KISD STAAR testing is available at www.KISD.org. Additional information at the state level is available at https://tea.texas.gov.

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