Sealy ISD Assistant Superintendent Doug Young presented the Texas Academic Performance Report for grades six through 12 during the district’s December school board meeting.
While the overall rankings were behind the state and regional averages, there are positives in the report, Young said.
“When I look at just test scores in particular, we’re behind the state average but when you look at the accountability rating we get in August that compares you to schools that have similar demographics as Sealy, not only did all four of our campuses meet the standard but several earned distinctions as well,” Young said. “The good news is we are making progress with catching up to the state level as well.”
Young said that despite overall scores going down, the level of learning is actually improving because the percentage of students who scored a higher rate actually went up.
“Those students may not have even passed in the 2015-16 school year and now they have so much growth that they score higher than the minimum and that’s what I mean when I say the higher level of learning has gone up,” he said.
There were other factors that affected the math and writing scores as well. With writing, the test has been changed by the Texas Education Agency that has increased difficulty in the questions and shortened the test time from an entire day to just four hours. The number of questions has remained the same.
“The questions have become much more comprehensive so the students have to be taught how to analyze rather than simply take the information in,” Young said. “We call it academic rigor because the difficulty has increased which is making teachers focus more on those areas that are absolutely essential and critical.”
With the math test, it is much of the same. During the 2015-16 school year, the TEA changed the math requirements so it essentially moved math down a grade so what used to be sixth grade-level math was now taught to the fifth graders.
“So for a lot of those kids, they actually skipped a year of math so you’ll notice statewide the scores went down because there was a gap that year,” Young said.
The math ratings increased from 72 in 2016 to 76 in 2017.
To continue improving the scores, Young said the principals have to continue to come together with the teachers of their respective schools and utilize data and collaboration to prepare the students.
“The teachers have to look at the data from last year as a group; all the English teachers will look at all the scores to better formulate a plan on how to analyze each essential knowledge and skill the state expects and how our students performed on each of those skills,” Young said. “They go back to their lesson plans and analyze those and compare them to the test scores and figure out what happened there. So they self-analyze whatever needs to be corrected whether it’s resources, materials, teaching methods or anything else.”
Young said he believes this collaborative effort will help teachers assist each other in better reaching the students with the skills that the state has deemed important for the students to grasp. A job, he said, they have been doing well so far.
“Our principals and teachers have shown just great attitude and willingness to do new things and wanting to achieve great things for the kids,” he said.