(Seguin) -- The first round of STAAR test results are out and it looks like gains in the Seguin ISD were reported for the fifth and eighth grade reading and math portions of the state mandated test. The students must pass the tests to be promoted to the next grade level.
Sean Hoffmann, the public information officer for the Seguin ISD, says despite an increase in rigor, preliminary results for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test, show improvement at most campuses.
Hoffmann says in fifth grade reading, the passing rate district wide was 72 percent. That's compared to 74 percent in 2015. He says although two percentage points lower, the calculations are based on much higher standards than last year, making it a successful round for the Seguin ISD.
"The rigor did increase in these exams compared to last year's. For example, we had a school score 75 last year and then 75 this year while the percentage of passing has not gone up, one can infer that there has been an increase because the rigor has increased. However, we're looking beyond that to see actual increases in the percentage passing from one year to the next -- from this year to last year. We're fortunate to have realized that increase in again 18 of 22 areas across the district for fifth grade reading and math," said Hoffmann.
In breaking down the data, Hoffmann shares the rundown of percentage scores for the seven elementary campuses.
"We had a 79 percent passing rate with the 2016 standard at Jefferson Elementary School compared to a 62 percent pass rate last year. Looking at Koennecke, a big jump, tremendous score of 92 percent passing versus 79 last year. Again, McQueeney did a great job, 84 percent to 63 percent last year. That's a 21 percent increase. Vogel, when you look at the standard that was last year verses what the rate is this year, we did see an increase there. Also with Weinert, we had 84 percent passing at Weinert for another increase," said Hoffmann.
While standard growth and overall measures were met by most campuses, Hoffmann says two elementary schools did not meet the mark during this first round of testing.
"Patlan sits at 53 percent passing rate, Rodriguez, 73 percent passing rate, those two schools show dips in the standard compared to last year. So obviously, we have some work to do in those two campuses. Again, this is the first round of testing that was completed in March. These students will have the opportunity to test again. Those who can take it again to get their score up -- we'll be putting an increased focus over the next few weeks -- before that test -- to kind of give them some key instruction on those areas to help boost their scores as well," said Hoffmann.
In the area of fifth grade math, Hoffmann says the passing rate district wide was 69 percent compared to 66 percent in 2015.
"Jefferson again they did a great job with the 69 percent passing rate. Koennecke they did great in reading. They did a great job again in math with 94 percent to show an increase. McQueeney was one of our IR (Improvement Required) campuses last year. They did a great job with 79 percent passing rate for math. Rodriguez bumped up to 83. Vogel really put the rubber to the road this year and got it up to 65 percent passing rate. Then Weinert traditionally always does well for us and they had a 70 percent passing rate in math," said Hoffmann.
The Seguin ISD is also pleased in the areas of 8th grade reading and 8th grade math at its two middle schools. Hoffmann says students, in most cases, also reported gains and met the standard growth level despite increased rigor on the STAAR exams taken in March. In the district, the passing rate in reading was 73 percent compared to 67 percent in 2015. In the area of math, district wide results show 60 percent passing for the 8th grade. That's compared to 63 percent in 2015.
"Our eighth graders, both at Breisemeister and at Barnes, did a great job. We have Briesemeister at 72 percent and Barnes at 74 percent passing for eighth grade reading. We saw a somewhat increase in eighth grade math at Briesemeister where we had a 61 percent passing rate which is an increase over last year. Barnes -- we saw them dip by a point down to 58 percent. But again, we're confident we can work with our eighth graders at Barnes. Again, it's going to be a prescriptive one on one instruction over the next few weeks before the students take that second round of STAAR testing. So we're confident we can get that number bumped up. So we see an increase in that area as well," said Hoffmann.
Hoffmann says the district, over the last several months, has been working hard for a new and positive direction. He says in many cases, Seguin ISD campuses out performed other San Antonio area schools when compared to preliminary results released by the San Antonio Express News.
"It was some data we looked at -- comparatively looking at some of the school districts in Bexar County. There was a chart that was published (Thursday) that showed their results. School districts may not say that they're competitive but it (would) be a lie to say that they're not. We looked at our data compared to some of the surrounding districts on schools that have similar demographics to us or are in the same UIL division that we are.
In looking at them, we realized that we've improved and made some great improvements compared to last year and where we can say that in some of the larger Bexar County schools that we have similar or better scores than some of the districts. We're going to continue to go in that positive trajectory because our kids here in Seguin deserve it," said Hoffmann.
Hoffmann says any credit needs to be extended across the board. He says each individual from the administrative office to the student themselves should be proud.
"We're proud of our teaching staff. We're proud of our students – our school board for providing the leadership as well as the administration who have all worked really hard this past year -- really, since the first day of school, even before then -- in putting the focus on increasing the academics in Seguin ISD. We heard it from our stakeholders for quite a while now. Many of them have been obviously very vocal with telling us the academics in Seguin needs to improve. With that, that's what our focus has been on. With the data that came out on April 21st, we are realizing growth in student test scores for this March round of STAAR testing in which we have seen the growth in 18 of 22 areas across the district. That's for fifth and eighth grade reading and math," said Hoffmann.
This is the first set of STAAR test results to be released by the Texas Education Agency. The second chance for kids to improve their test scores will be on May 9.