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Waco ISD STAAR scores in math and reading show improvement

Waco ISD’s implementation of rigorous classroom instruction and intensive, small group reading and mathematics interventions for students who are academically behind is yielding results according to preliminary STAAR data released this week.

Diagnostic reading inventory data conducted in the Spring show that Waco ISD grew from having 28 percent of all students in first grade on or above grade level in reading in 2020-2021 to having 42 percent on or above grade level in 2022-2023.

“Our classroom teachers and intervention team have been diligently working to ensure that we properly identify and serve students with a solid instructional plan at each level so that all students are on or above grade level,” Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said. “Our Reading Recovery program, going into its third full year of implementation, yielded an average year's worth of growth in reading proficiency for students with just 20 weeks of intensive instruction.”

Preliminary STAAR score data for elementary reading show that Waco ISD students are making progress. At least two of the district’s elementary schools, West Avenue Elementary and South Waco Elementary, improved STAAR scores by more than 20 percentage points in third grade reading.

“While third graders aren’t included in the state’s growth calculations for accountability ratings, we know that the progress being made will benefit our students as they advance to the next grade level. Gains in reading proficiency will impact them for life, not just on state tests,” Kincannon said. 

Waco ISD middle school students also made noticeable gains or paced last year’s STAAR reading results.

Nine Waco ISD elementary schools saw overall improvement in third grade mathematics, with some campuses improving more than 10 percentage points. Provident Heights improved third grade math scores by over 25 percentage points. At the middle school level, Lake Air Montessori eighth grade scores increased by nearly 30 percentage points with Tennyson and Cesar Chavez Middle Schools holding steady as compared to last year’s data. At the high school level, Waco ISD increased the percentage of students passing the Algebra 1 STAAR exam by five percentage points.

Waco ISD students also achieved increases on every End-of-Course exam: Algebra 1, Biology, English I, English II, and U.S. History. The greatest gains were in English I where Waco ISD students improved by 14 percentage points.

In the area of College, Career and Military Readiness, Waco ISD increased eight percentage points in 2023.

“The number of elementary students needing urgent interventions is down. Our middle school students are showing more than a year's growth in just a semester. The number of middle and high school students who are reading dramatically below grade level is down. And our students' test scores are increasing in reading from elementary through middle school as well as in Algebra 1, Biology, English I, English II, and US History,” said Kincannon. “We aren’t where we want to be, but there is significant incremental improvement and you can tell that good planning and execution of our teachers’ work is resulting in progress.”