The Sherman and Denison independent school districts recently released the summarized testing results of how students in all participating grades performed on this year’s standardized exams.


The State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness scores indicate how students in grades three through 11 performed on the 2017 administration of the exams, which touch on multiple subjects. Math and reading tests were administered to students in grades three through eight. Writing tests were given students in fourth and seventh grades. Science exams were administered to students in fifth and eighth grades. Social studies tests were given to eighth graders. And students in grades nine through 11 were administered STAAR end-of-course algebra, English, biology and U.S. history exams. Data reflecting the state averages for comparable grades and exams are not yet available.


“This is a good snapshot of where we are and what we’re doing,” Sherman Independent School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Whitenack said of the most recent scores.


The Texas Education Agency assigns STAAR scores into one of four categories — “Did Not Meet Grade Level,” “Approaches Grade Level (Passing),” “Meets Grade Level (Passing),” and “Masters Grade Level (Passing).” A representative of the TEA’s Student Assessment Division confirmed the Approaches Grade Level designation encompasses all students who performed at the approaching level or better, including those who met and mastered their grade level. Definitions provided by the state education agency list students of the Did Not Meet Grade Level designation as “unlikely to succeed in the next grade or course without significant, ongoing academic intervention” and those of the “Approaches Grade Level” group as “likely to succeed in the next grade or on course with targeted academic intervention.”


State law requires that students in fifth and eighth grades achieve an approaching score or better on the STAAR reading and math tests to be promoted to the next grade level. Students who do not are retained at their current grade level, unless a parent appeals the child’s retention and the members of a campus-based grade placement committee unanimously agree to advance the student. Fifth and eighth grade students who failed to reach grade level on the previous two administrations will attempt the STAAR a third and final time this week. High school students who did not meet grade level on their EOCs will also be allowed to retake exams this week.


Below are the districts’ results on the 2017 STAAR exams. The math and reading scores for fifth and eighth grade reflect students’ performance on the second administration of the exams. All other scores reflect students’ performance on the first and, in many cases, only administration of the exams.


Denison Independent School District


Third grade STAAR reading results: 82 percent of students approached grade level or better, 18 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fourth grade STAAR reading results: 79 percent of students approached grade level or better, 21 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fifth grade STAAR reading results: 81 percent of students approached grade level or better, 19 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Sixth grade STAAR reading results: 72 percent of students approached grade level or better, 28 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Seventh grade STAAR reading results: 73 percent of students approached grade level or better, 27 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR reading results: 87 percent of students approached grade level or better, 13 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Third grade STAAR math results: 85 percent of students approached grade level or better, 15 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fourth grade STAAR math results: 73 percent of students approached grade level or better, 27 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fifth grade STAAR math results: 84 percent of students approached grade level or better, 16 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Sixth grade STAAR math results: 84 percent of students approached grade level or better, 16 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Seventh grade STAAR math results: 71 percent of students approached grade level or better, 29 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR math results: 84 percent of students approached grade level or better, 16 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fourth grade STAAR writing results: 65 percent of students approached grade level or better, 35 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Seventh grade STAAR writing results: 63 percent of students approached grade level or better, 37 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fifth grade STAAR science results: 74 percent of students approached grade level or better, 26 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR science results: 74 percent of students approached grade level or better, 26 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR social studies results: 69 percent of students approached grade level or better, 31 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC algebra I exam results: 80 percent of students approached grade level or better, 20 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC U.S. history exam results: 93 percent of students approached grade level or better, 7 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC biology exam results: 95 percent of students approached grade level or better, 5 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC English I exam results: 56 percent of students approached grade level or better, 44 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC English II exam results: 57 percent of students approached grade level or better, 43 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Denison ISD Director of Assessment and Special Programs Regina Prigge said the school district was largely satisfied with its students’ performance and that administrators were glad to see scores on certain subjects had improved from the previous year.


“Overall, we’re pleased with our scores,” Prigge said. “We’re excited to see the growth at multiple grade levels, in reading and math and in our science and social studies.”


Prigge said the district’s writing and English scores, which hovered in the 50s and 60s, were intertwined because the exams rely on a similar skill set. And in addition to the tutoring, summer school and at-home study resources made available to students who did not reach grade level, Prigge said Denison ISD will work to enhance students’ written abilities throughout the district.


“We’ll continue to focus on writing and to update our instructional strategies and writing at all levels,” Prigge said.


Sherman Independent School District


Third grade STAAR reading results: 72 percent of students approached grade level or better, 28 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fourth grade STAAR reading results: 68 percent of students approached grade level or better, 32 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fifth grade STAAR reading results: 80 percent of students approached grade level or better, 20 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Sixth grade STAAR reading results: 69 percent of students approached grade level or better, 31 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Seventh grade STAAR reading results: 71 percent of students approached grade level or better, 29 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR reading results: 76 percent of students approached grade level or better, 24 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Third grade STAAR math results: 73 percent of students approached grade level or better, 27 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fourth grade STAAR math results: 71 percent of students approached grade level or better, 29 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fifth grade STAAR math results: 88 percent of students approached grade level or better, 12 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Sixth grade STAAR math results: 78 percent of students approached grade level or better, 22 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Seventh grade STAAR math results: 66 percent of students approached grade level or better, 34 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR math results: 70 percent of students approached grade level or better, 30 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fourth grade STAAR writing results: 60 percent of students approached grade level or better, 40 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Seventh grade STAAR writing results: 59 percent of students approached grade level or better, 41 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Fifth grade STAAR science results: 77 percent of students approached grade level or better, percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR science results: 66 percent of students approached grade level or better, 34 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Eighth grade STAAR social studies results: 49 percent of students approached grade level or better, 51 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC algebra I exam results: 74 percent of students approached grade level or better, 26 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC U.S. history exam results: 92 percent of students approached grade level or better, 8 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC biology exam results: 82 percent of students approached grade level or better, 18 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC English I exam results: 54 percent of students approached grade level or better, 46 percent of students did not meet grade level.


STAAR EOC English II exam results: 62 percent of students approached grade level or better, 38 percent of students did not meet grade level.


Whitenack said the district improved in multiple areas of the STAAR this year, but one subject in particular saw considerable improvement.


“Math was our strength this year,” Whitenack said. “We increased five points in both eighth grade and seventh grade. In sixth grade, we increased by eight points and in eighth grade we increased by one point.”


Whitenack said Sherman ISD will, like its neighboring district to the north, work toward improving its students’ reading and writing scores. And on the matter of SISD’s eighth grade social studies score, Whitenack said the subject is taught much differently now than it was in previous years and the exam requires students of that age to use academic skills they haven’t before.


“It’s not just facts and figures like we learned in history, but it’s a lot more in depth,” Whitenack said, using the word “history” in place of social studies. “It’s really looking at a primary source, looking at a quote or a map or a picture — literally a piece of art — and making inferences and generalizations based on the knowledge you have.”


The assistant superintendent said Sherman ISD’s 2017 scores weren’t radically different from those from previous years, but added that they are still valued by the district and its educators.


“It’s not significantly different than what we’ve done before, but it does show us where we need to work and it gives us a focus,” Whitenack said of the 2017 scores. “We are always accountable to our community to do better and to focus our instruction and curriculum.”


End-of-course summer retakes will be held June 19-23 and results are expected on July 28. The third and final administrations of the fifth and eighth grade reading and math exams will be held June 20-21 and results are expected on July 7.