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June 6, 2014

Improvements in GISD shine under STAAR

GREENVILLE — The preliminary STAAR test results from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) showed many high points and a few areas of improvement for students at Greenville Independent School District.

While these are not the final results, districts use these numbers as a good starting point on ways to address the scores.

GISD Superintendent Don Jefferies said he is excited about many of the scores, and is working on a plan to help increase the reading and English scores, which students across the state have historically struggled with over the years.

“I am very proud of our students and staff for their continuous efforts to improve our students’ academic performance,”  he said. “Due to the systemic changes we have made in the past few years, we have made significant improvements in our students’ performance. This has been especially true in math and science.”

According to the TEA summary reports, the GISD passing rates mirrored most of the scores across the state.

Greenville High School students fared well in both the Algebra I and Biology End of Course (EOC) tests, with 86 percent passing Algebra I and 85 percent of students passing the Biology EOC assessment.

High school students also tested well in the history EOC, having a 97 percent passing rate.

Although high school students met the state average for the English 1 and 2 EOC scores at 71 and 73 percent respectively, Jefferies sees this as an area of improvement the district can focus on.

“We know that we must strive for continuous improvements in the academic performance of all students,” he said. “These test results reflect the progress our students are making and identify the areas that require more concerted efforts from all of us.”

No Greenville Middle School student failed the Algebra I STAAR EOC, and 60 percent of students performed at the advanced level.

Greenville fifth grade science teachers participated in 100 hours of professional development courses at Region 10.

The training paid off, as students gained 10 percentage points, moving to a 65 percent passing rate. Biology still remains an area needing improvement, but Bowie and Lamar Elementary campuses excelled, earning a 93 and 87 percent passing rate respectively. 

Math scores at Bowie and Lamar were also above the standard, as 97 percent of Bowie fifth graders passed and 96 percent of Lamar’s fifth graders met the standard.

Every student at the Houston Education Center passed the biology portion of the exam, and 92 percent of students passed the history EOC.

“We feel that we’re continuing to make improvements,” Jefferies said. “We know those areas and we have continued to improve them and we made some advances.”

According to GISD Accountability, Compliance and Data Specialist Rachael Driggers, she is formulating a professional development plan that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the scores, and makes the required changes needed to address the lower test scores.

To that end, Jefferies said the district is trying to individualize a child’s education as much as possible.

“What we’re about is drilling down to each individual kid,” he said. “As much as possible we want to individualize the education of kids.”

The state relies heavily on the STAAR test results to gauge the status of schools across the state.

Jefferies said while scores reflect how well students can take tests, it does not reflect everything students learn and achieve at the district, including sending students to the Destination ImagiNation World Championships, the FIRST World Championships for robotics, and placing second in the annual Solar Car Challenge, among other extracurricular activities the district offers.

“In addition to academic skills, we must also reinforce American family values, stress character education, teach job specific skills, teach free enterprise economics, show students how to collaborate and work with others, stress respect for life and property,” he said. “We are proud of the accomplishments of our students in those areas as well.”

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