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Burnet Consolidated Independent School District students showed improvements on many, but not all, state assessment tests. 

The Texas Education Agency released the 2022 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness scores earlier in July. This includes the third- through eighth-grade STAAR results and high school STAAR end-of-course scores.

Students begin taking state assessment tests in selected subjects in the third grade. 

BCISD elementary and middle school students improved over last year’s scores on most exams. The scores did slip below the year prior in fourth-grade math, fifth-grade math, eighth-grade math, and eighth-grade social studies. 

Elementary through middle school scores are not necessarily for the same students taking the same exams, as third-graders taking last year’s STAAR exam have since moved on to the fourth grade. While classroom teachers and campus administrators assess the data for each student as they move to a new grade, the state review compares only grade levels from one year to the next. 

BCISD elementary and middle school students recorded strong improvements in third-grade reading with a 9 percent jump from last year, in fourth-grade reading with an 11 percent jump from last year, and in seventh-grade reading with a 12 percent jump from last year.

BCISD officials acknowledged the district’s STAAR scores for elementary and middle school were below average with the exception of sixth-grade math. 

At the high school level, BCISD students’ average passing rates were better than the state average in all five exams. The STAAR end-of-course exam covers math, English I, English II, social studies, and science. 

BCISD officials understand there is work to be done, and it’s already underway in preparation for the upcoming school year.

“We are focused on improving students’ academic growth,” said Dr. Rachel Jones, assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, in a BCISD media release. “Teachers are completing content-specific trainings such as Reading Academies to learn best practices for literacy instruction design and pedagogic trainings that leverage teacher team expertise through Professional Learning Communities.”

She added that teacher teams worked during the summer to refine instruction and assessments in preparation for the coming year.

On top of that, BCISD worked with 198 students in June who were in need of direct academic intervention. Jones said this is the largest summer program to date for the district.

One issue that might have impacted scores is low student attendance. Early attendance reports showed just over a quarter of students were “chronically absent,” which means they missed more than 10 percent of school days last year, BCISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett said.

“While many of the absences were coded as ‘excused’ due to pandemic conditions, the impact on learning is still significant,” McBurnett said in a media release. “When students are absent, academic progress slows or halts.”

McBurnett urged parents and caregivers to ensure students are in class every day, if they are healthy. He added that it’s important to schedule vacations on non-student days and appointments outside of school hours as often as possible.

“Students learn best when they are present and the school community can promote achievement by promoting attendance,” he said.

For more information on Texas public and charter schools’ accountability rating reports and data, visit the TEA’s TXschools.gov website. The 2022 accountability ratings are expected to be published on Aug. 15 on the site. 

Parents can also find more information related to STAAR, as well as released exams, on the TEA’s Assessment Resources for Students and Parents webpage. 

daniel@thepicayune.com