WFISD and educators discuss low STAAR test scores

Multiple factors played into the low scores, but how can the Board raise the bar for student achievement?
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:52 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls ISD Board of Trustees, educators and school leaders held a much-anticipated meeting on Tuesday to discuss STAAR test results and falling academic achievement in local schools.

Reactions to the low scores ranged from disappointment to shock, and some expressed skepticism that the results should be seen as valid in the first place.

“We’ve heard from our teachers and principals and their students were told that they don’t count. I don’t know how you can use that data as the bible of data,” said Elizabeth Yeager, Vice President of the Board of Trustees.

But Katherine McGregor, a trustee at large on the Board, said that the scores reflected student achievement regardless of what was told to students: “Because that’s where they were that day, that’s where they were,” she said.

“When I saw the scores I honestly wanted to cry because I was embarrassed, I’m scared for those kids in general and I think we’re all doing everything we possibly can.” said one WFISD teacher during public comment.

While being a new teachers was hard enough during the pandemic, WFISD board members believe teachers should be using a set curriculum instead of using outside resources to teach students reading and math. While some teachers speaking during public comment said they enjoyed the flexibility of using supplemental resources, others approached the podium to express frustration with the lack of uniform educational materials.

“Our teachers are going on a website to find materials so they have something to teach in class. So if I’m a teacher and I wanna use biology, I may choose a different biology than the teacher next door to me. So I don’t understand why or when we have gotten away from having a real curriculum,” said one commenter.

In contrast to the contention over STAAR test results, all parties did agree that MAP test scores were essential to gauging student achievement. Otherwise known as the Measure of Academic Progress, MAP exists outside of the state curriculum. Three MAP tests are administered each year, helping to measure individual student progress and growth during the school year. The MAP tests have been shown to be effective inside the classroom, and educators insisted that they assist in the effort to get test scores where they should be.

Tuesday’s special session followed a walkout at last week’s regular meeting, when Board members Katherine McGregor, Bob Payton, and Mark Lukert abruptly broke quorum and forced an early end to the session by leaving. The trio was allegedly frustrated about a lack of discussion on STAAR results and academic achievement, which were already scheduled to be discussed in Tuesday’s meeting.

WFISD Board President Mike Rucker then released a statement saying he was “ashamed” of their actions, and noted that the meeting being cut short had consequences: “the board was not able to take action on several key items that directly impact student achievement - the hiring of district teachers and nurses and the approval of reading curriculum.”

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