Texas students performed significantly worse on state-administered standardized tests in 2021, according to the Texas Education Agency. Four out of 10 students who took the annual STAAR failed the math exam.
Emily Donaldson is an education reporter for The Dallas Morning News Education Lab. She told Texas Standard that educators had predicted that the pandemic and remote education would mean some learning loss for students. The STAAR results seem to bear out those fears.
“There were, I think, just across the board, more students failing every single exam across every single grade level,” Donaldson said.
The failures were most dramatic on the math exam, though one-third of students failed the reading exam. Donaldson says lower test scores affected students in all areas of the state, and at all family income levels, though the drop in scores was somewhat more dramatic in lower-income areas.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath called the results “problematic.” He said on Monday that 800,000 more students in the state are performing significantly below grade level than were in 2019.
“That’s the equivalent, if you add up the student bodies of the seven largest school districts … their students suddenly all fell below grade level in math,” Donaldson said.
The TEA hasn’t analyzed data to determine whether virtual learners did less well than students who attended in-person school, but analysis of districts with large-scale virtual learning programs shows that those districts had the steepest learning loss, with a 32% drop in math results and 9% in reading. Students with the least amount of virtual learning saw a 1% drop in reading, 9% in math.