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Dallas ISD Statewide Test Scores Show Mixed Results

Number of Students Passing TAKS Increases; First End of Course Reading and Writing Exams Prove Difficult for 9th Grade Students; District to Offer Assistance

DALLAS-Dallas ISD 10th and 11th grade students posted gains on TAKS, while a majority of district 9th grade students struggled with the state’s new rigorous end of course exams, particularly in reading and writing.

School districts throughout the state are in the first year of implementing the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) while phasing out the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).

"The staff at our high schools did a very good job of managing two different state assessment systems this year,” said Interim Superintendent Alan King. "While there are encouraging results from TAKS, there is a clear roadmap for where our staff, students and parents need to focus their efforts during the summer and upcoming school year."

The percentage of 10th grade students passing the TAKS test increased in all four subjects:
 English/Language Arts 3.2% increase
 Mathematics 5.8% increase
 Science 2.4% increase
 Social Studies 1.3% increase
In addition, the percentage of 10th grade students passing at the more difficult commended levels increased in two subjects and decreased in two others:
 English/Language Arts 5.2% increase
 Mathematics 1.3% increase
 Science 0.3% decrease
 Social Studies 1.1% decrease
In grade 11, the percentage of students passing TAKS increased in two subjects while decreasing in two others:
 English/Language Arts 1.7% decrease
 Mathematics 0.9% increase
 Science 4.9% increase
 Social Studies 0.2% decrease

The percentage of 11th grade students passing at commended levels increased in all subjects:
 English/Language Arts 5.8% increase
 Mathematics 5.1% increase
 Science 1.8% increase
 Social Studies 4.7% increase
"Up until this school year, the commended scores on TAKS have been the best indicator of college readiness among our students so additional gains are noteworthy," said King. "The STAAR end of course (EOC) exams, which are more closely aligned with the state curriculum, will now become the bellwether of college readiness."

The state of Texas required school districts to prepare students for the more rigorous STAAR exams in the same year when public education funding was cut by $5.4 billion. Dallas ISD had 1,441 fewer employees during the 2011-12 school year and received $63 million less from the state. The district will receive $100 million less during the 2012-13 school year.

Dallas ISD 9th grade students took the state's end of course exams for the first time this past spring. A student must meet or exceed the minimum score on each assessment for that score to count on the cumulative score requirement necessary to graduate.

Dallas ISD is still waiting for final results from the state, but the preliminary results for ninth grade students are as follows:
 Algebra I: 75 percent passing State average: 83 percent passing
 Geometry*: 96 percent passing 
 Reading: 56 percent passing State average: 68 percent passing
 Writing: 43 percent passing State average: 55 percent passing
 Biology: 83 percent passing State average: 87 percent passing
 World Geography: 76 percent passing  State average: 81 percent passing
It should be noted that a little less than one-third of district ninth grade students took the Geometry exam and the remainder took Algebra I.

Students who do not pass an end of course exam will be required to retake the test. The number of Dallas ISD students who must retake an exam ranges from approximately 1,500 in biology to 5,100 in writing.

"We were expecting these tests to be more rigorous and they obviously are, particularly in reading and writing," said King. "Our job as a school district is to provide the necessary resources to help our students be successful on these exams in the future. Incoming Superintendent Mike Miles has been very clear in communicating that our main purpose is improving student achievement and he has been laying important groundwork toward that goal during the last few weeks."

During the summer, Dallas ISD is offering End-of-Course Academies to students to help prepare for the July administration of the test. The district has hired more than 100 additional teachers during the last few weeks to be ready for students who choose to attend. Parents whose students did not pass the end of course tests are being notified that they are required to attend a parent academy to receive information, tools and resources in preparation for the retest. The district will also provide written materials, a help hotline and online tutoring videos.

For those students who continue to struggle with STAAR, tutoring and other supports will be provided during the new school year.

Students in grades 3-8 also took STAAR exams for the first time. Because the cut score has yet to be set by the state and because test items will be weighted differently, the district is not releasing the percentage of items passed in each subject at this time.

The Texas Education Agency is not using results from the 2011-12 administration of the TAKS or STAAR exams for accountability purposes. This means that school ratings will not be based on this year’s scores and results will not be used to determine whether students are promoted to the next level.