STAAR results: A deeper dive by graduating class

Last week’s release of the 2023 STAAR results gave us the most up-to-date data on how our third through eighth grade students are performing across the state.

Year-over-year performance for discrete grades showed an increase in math proficiency and slight decreases in reading proficiency. When looking at cohort data by graduating class, we see some cohorts are experiencing sustained growth, while others continue to decline in proficiency. Education builds on itself year over year so any disruption (or investment) will affect cohorts of students differently, depending on where they are in the education pipeline.

Class of 2027 cohort STAAR data

Class of 2027

The Class of 2027 — eighth graders in this data — has shown significant academic recovery from pandemic lows. In reading, the percentage of students meeting grade level expectations (56%) exceeds the pre-pandemic baseline (43%) and reflects a modest increase from last year (54%).

In math, the percentage of students meeting grade level (44%) nearly reaches pre-pandemic levels (46%) and reflects a significant improvement from last year (29%). Rates of mastery in math are still well below pre-pandemic levels (16% in 2023 vs. 27% in 2019), while mastery in reading exceeds the pre-pandemic baseline but also shows a sizable drop from last year (21% in 2019, 37% in 2022, and 27% in 2023).

Class of 2028 cohort STAAR data

Class of 2028

The Class of 2028 — seventh graders in this data — have faced a much more difficult recovery. In math, 2023 performance continues to lag significantly behind pre-pandemic levels in approaching (-17pp), meets (-12pp), and masters (-14pp). And, unfortunately, the declines continue year over year.

In reading, however, the Class of 2028 experienced both year-over-year improvement (approaches +8pp, meets +10pp, and masters +4pp) and now exceeds pre-pandemic levels for approaches (+2pp) and meets (+9pp).

Class of 2029 cohort STAAR data

Class of 2029

The Class of 2029 — sixth graders in this data — show alarming trends in cohort mastery declines that undermine the otherwise positive story seen with previous groups of sixth graders.

This group of students saw significant growth after the pandemic between their 4th and 5th grade years. This growth, unfortunately, was not sustained through their sixth grade year when the percentage of students on grade level in reading and math dropped by six and nine points, respectively.

While the 50% recorded as on grade level is a record high for sixth graders, more analysis will be needed to understand why the class experienced a drop in achievement in both math and reading. Mastery in reading and math also significantly declined since last year (Reading: 36% in 2022 vs. 21% in 2023 & Math: 24% in 2022 vs. 15% in 2023).

Class of 2030 cohort STAAR data

Class of 2030

The Class of 2030 — fifth graders in this data — have seen sustained growth post-pandemic. This class has gone on to increase the number of students reading on grade level by 18 points in the past two years.

The same class has seen sustained growth in math, increasing the percentage of the class performing on grade level by 20 points. They currently have the highest math proficiency out of any of these cohorts. The percentage of students achieving mastery in this cohort saw significant growth between 2021 and 2022 in both math and reading, but no growth in 2023 (Math: 14% in 2021 vs. 22% in 2022 vs. 21% in 2023 & Reading: 19% in 2021 vs. 28% in 2022 vs. 28% in 2023).

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