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Lawmakers, educators address grim STAAR results

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Top education leaders in the Texas House heard testimony on the state's new standardized test and its effects on students, teachers, instruction practices and graduation rates.

Tuesday, members of the House Public Education Committee evaluated the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR.

Official figures released this month indicate if the final standards were already in place, more than half of Texas high school freshmen would have failed in five key areas.

For now, those who failed the test have to be tested again. Amarillo Superintendent Rod Schroder says 948 of his district's freshman who struggled on the test are in summer school.

"Our biggest concern is these ninth graders who failed these EOCs [end-of-courses] because their graduation path started in ninth grade and now we have ninth grade students off the path towards graduation," he said.

The additional schooling is a cost many districts are willing to shell out to get their students the necessary tools to retake the tests and pass, but Manor’s Superintendent Andrew Kim said it’s an expenditure that will hopefully be dropped soon.

"The cost issue right now is a significant factor. Currently we're spending close to $100,000 right now for remediation for about 200 students,” he said.

Once fully implemented, end of course exams will count for 15 percent of high school student’s grades.

After confusion over how to apply the percentage, and outcry from parents, teachers and some lawmakers, the rule was delayed one year.

The final standards are being implemented gradually and will be in full effect by 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

STARR results among Texas high school freshmen

When ninth-graders' scores were judged against final standards, their STARR scores were as follows:

• In Biology, the passing rate would have been 41 percent
• In Algebra, the passing rate would have been 39 percent
• In English, the writing passing rate would have been 34 percent and the reading passing rate would have been 46 percent
• In world geography, the passing rate would have been 40 percent

Information courtesy The Associated Press.

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