Waxahachie students still have the TAKS test on the brain and are struggling with writing skills, according to the 2012-2013 Texas Academic Performance Report.
With two years’ worth of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness exams behind them, the report showed only 64 percent of students passed the writing portion on a district-wide level. The results were revealed during the Monday night school board of trustees meeting. All campuses met the state standard, according to the report.
The district members couldn’t compare the two years of data and had to set their own standards for the end-of-course exams, so officials looked at state performance at the 50-percentile mark, said deputy superintendent David Truitt.
Compared to the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exams, more than 90 percent of students passed the exam, according to the report.
“We still lack a true understanding of what the STAAR EOC is asking,” Truitt said. “We’re still doing a lot of the TAKS writing skills and with that comes the understanding of how the test will be graded. The main thing we’ve got to do is to continue to have training.”
The district will be providing training to all grade levels to provide a better understanding of conception literacy and help students change the way writing has been done in the past.
“What they have to write, there’s a certain number of lines, so we’re talking about less is more, getting to the point sooner and we’re talking more essays they have to write because there’s field tests in there,” Truitt said.
The state offers conferences that teachers could attend throughout the year, and the district is bringing in Veronica Flores, a literacy consultation who helped write literacy portions of the STAAR test, Truitt said. Flores will be in the district on Jan. 24.
The district will also provide materials to support instruction for development as needed.
“To be frank, it’s about understanding the writing rubrics and how the scoring mechanism works for our kids,” he said.
Training, however, should go beyond understanding the scoring, said board member Mike Lee. If WISD wants well-rounded students, making sure students and teachers spend time on writing skills is essential he said, especially in a world where learning those skills might be more difficult because of technology like instant messaging.
“It’s an indication that writing needs to be focused on throughout all of our schools,” he said. “Yes, we met the standards, but we as Waxahachie should go beyond standards.”