In a year that has seen dramatic and frequent disruptions, few people were affected more deeply than school-age children. Beyond the pandemic’s effects, uneven responses by schools have had a dramatic effect on academic performance. Private schools were, on average, better able to quickly adapt and adjust to provide adequate learning through the pandemic’s limitations. Public schools saw varying degrees of flexibility across Texas. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests offer one measure for comparing the performance of students in public and private schools. Families should have the option to apply the public funds allocated to their children in their home school districts to any school, known as school choice.
What Do the STAAR Tests Measure?
The STAAR program includes standardized tests launched in 2012, designed to measure learning in elementary and middle school. Most emphasize reading and math skills. They also measure a student’s readiness to move on to the next grade. While standardized test scores should never be used as a single indicator of student knowledge and ability, they offer an apples-to-apples comparison for examining student performance in general.
How Did Texas Public School Students Perform on 2021 STAAR Testing?
As a whole, public school students in Texas performed very poorly on 2021 STAAR tests, with scores even lower than expected due to pandemic challenges. The largest declines occurred in math, though reading scores also dropped.
Why Were 2021 STAAR Results So Poor?
Most educators and administrators expected scores to be lower in 2021 due to the upheaval of the pandemic. Testing data bears out this prediction with nearly all tested areas seeing poorer performance compared to 2019 results. Students who experienced the most virtual learning saw the greatest reduction in scores. However, students who had more in-person learning showed a smaller learning gap over the previous year.
What Do These Results Mean?
In brief, these troubling results mean that the majority of Texas public school students fared poorly over the previous school year. Thus, substantial efforts will be needed on all sides to help them achieve a grade level in future years. These results indicate that some schools don’t seem able to adequately support students, particularly those with poor performance records. In fact, out of 8,194 public and charter schools rated by the Texas Education Agency, a full 13% have recently received “D” or “F” ratings.
What Is School Choice?
School choice is a system allowing families to select schools for their children. School choice can take multiple forms, from vouchers and tax credits to educational savings accounts. These programs allow the usage of a portion of the tax dollars and funding at schools of their choosing. These programs allow students in poorly performing schools to move to more effective schools.
Why Does School Choice Matter?
Educating our children—our future leaders—effectively is critical to having a well-run, highly-functioning society. Choosing how and where our children receive that education is just as important, especially because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Enabling and supporting school choice offer the opportunity to send children to schools that best suit their needs. Recent studies indicate that competition generated by school choice programs can even cause improvements in poorly-performing public schools, resulting in wins all around.
Learn More About School Choice
We welcome you to contact us with any questions you may have about The Tenney School and our unique one-on-one approach to learning.