SSISD scores above average in reading, ELA portion of TAKS test

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

June 15, 2008 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District's scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests are far ahead of the mandatory benchmark numbers, and local students are a little ahead of the statewide average in some areas.

The preliminary results of the latest round of TAKS testing indicates the district's overall pass percent was above state averages in writing and reading/English language arts, while science and social studies were about the same as the rest of the state.

SSISD students scored a little below the rest of the state in math, but those numbers may rise before the final results are released in October, according to Betty Lawson, the district's assessment/ accountability coordinator.

"This is just to see how our kids score compared to others across the state, but is not a true accountability," Lawson said this week, explaining that the state's numbers don't include some data, such as the recent results of math retests for fifth through eighth graders. "What we look at when we see the first report is to see if we are reading at the state average."

The district will receive an updated rating within four weeks, and may then appeal any of the results, if necessary. Lawson said the final release of accountability ratings will come in October.

In the reading/ELA TAKS test, 88 percent of students statewide passed, while SSISD students performed a little better, with 90 percent passing.

SSISD also had 93 percent pass the writing test, compared to the state average of 91 percent.

The district mirrored the state average in science and social studies, with 73 and 91 percent passing, respectively.

SSISD students were below the state average in math, but only by a 2 percent margin.

Since the state calculated the prelimary test scores, the results of grades 5-8 TAKS math retests are back, and the scores for SSISD students have improved. Those scores, however, are not reflected in these preliminary results, Lawson explained, and will be factored in when updated scores are released within four weeks.

SSISD is also way ahead of the mandatory benchmark rate of 70 percent passing on reading/ELA, 65 percent in writing, 50 percent in math, 45 percent in science and 65 percent in social studies.

Sulphur Springs students were ahead of state pass percentages in reading/ELA at every grade level except sixth and eighth.

In the writing TAKS test, administered to fourth and seventh graders, 94 percent of SSISD fourth graders passed, compared to the state total of 91 percent. Sulphur Springs seventh graders came in 1 percent ahead of the state writing pass average of 90 percent.

Much like the rest of the state, the percentage of Sulphur Springs students passing the math tests generally declined as the grade level increases. Of the Sulphur Springs third graders tested in math, 86 percent passed. Fourth graders had 80 percent passing, while 85 percent passed in fifth grade. Sixth graders were 6 points under the state average of 80, and seventh graders three points under the state's 76 percent pass. Across the state, 75 percent of eighth graders passed the test, but only 68 percent of Sulphur Springs students passed during the first administration of the test. Ninth graders had 61 percent passing, a point above the state pass percent in math, while 10th graders had 69 percent pass, 6 more than at the state level. Sulphur Springs 11th graders had a 74 percent pass rate, but statewide the rate was 79 percent.

In science, Sulphur Springs fifth graders had 89 percent passing, eighth graders had 62 percent, 10th graders 65 percent and 11th graders 74 percent.

Sulphur Springs students showed strong scores in social studies, with 89 percent of eighth and 10th graders passing, while 94 percent of 11th graders passed.

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