The Houston Independent School District (HISD) posted mixed results on the latest standardized test results. According to a district press release, HISD tended to show more improvements on the math sections of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, particularly for grades 3 through 8.
Scores on the math assessment increased in grades 3, 5,6 and 7 between the 2013 and 2014 while they declined in grade 8 and remained flat in grade 4. Reading scores declined in grades 3, 5, 7, and 8, while they increased in grades 4 and six.
Table 1 shows the raw passage rates for each year and grade level.
|Table 1: HISD STAAR passage rates (source HISD)|
An alternative way to analyze the results is by tracking cohorts (same grades) across time. Instead of seeing how a given grade performs each year, we can follow cohorts across grades to examine the passage rate.
This approach shows a more positive story for HISD. In math, the 2013 fourth, fifth and seventh-grade cohorts posted large increases in passage rates, while the sixth-grade cohort posted in small two-point increase and the third-grade cohort remained flat.
In reading, the 2013 third-grade and fifth grade cohorts showed declines in scores, while the three other cohorts posted three-point gains.
These results are shown in Table 2.
|Table 2: HISD STAAR passage rates by cohort year|
Students must pass the tests in grades 5 and 8 to obtain promotion to the next grade.
The Houston Chronicle noted that HISD passage rates were significantly below passage rates of elite suburban districts, though both sets of districts followed similar trajectories.
The census areas which HISD covers have a child poverty rate double to triple those of its suburban counterparts. Therefore, the disparity in test scores is likely increased by a greater share of children from wealthier families attending private school within the HISD district boundaries.