Texas Makes Progress On 2021-22 STAAR But Algebra I Remains Sore Spot, Results Show

As Texas makes progress toward academic recovery, 2021-22 STAAR results reveal students still need improvement in Algebra I.

What to know:

  • Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the Spring 2022 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results for end-of-course (EOC) assessments on Thursday, June 16.
  • Students take EOC assessments after the completion of Algebra I, Biology, English I, English II, and U.S. History in order to satisfy the requirements for high school graduation. 
  • This year, the state made progress toward academic recovery in Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History with English I and English II staying consistent with pre-pandemic achievement.
  • While progress was made on the three tests — Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History — that saw a significant decline during COVID-19, Algebra I showed the largest decline and remains an area of concern for the state.
  • Fewer than half of the students tested in Algebra I met grade level this year with persisting gaps in achievement among economically disadvantaged and minority students, data reveals.

From 2019 to 2021, Algebra I proficiency dropped 21 points to 41%. In 2022, 46% of students met grade level in Algebra I. While overall performance improved five points from last year, the fact remains that for another year fewer than half of the students tested met grade level with persisting gaps in achievement among economically disadvantaged and minority students.

Why does this matter? 

Algebra I is in many ways the gateway to advanced math—the sooner students master algebra concepts, the sooner and more likely they will successfully move on to higher-level math courses. The first year of algebra is a prerequisite for all higher-level math: Geometry, Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Calculus. Researchers have found in multiple studies that students who take more high-quality math in high school are more likely to declare science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors in college.

What gets measured, gets fixed

Some might say that these results tell us what we already know: students face significant disruptions to learning over the last two years. However, we must be honest with ourselves about the state of our education system and highlight the disparities. Texas’ STAAR test, which provides results to parents, teachers, students, and lawmakers, creates a transparent conversation around how we as a state close performance gaps between historically marginalized communities.

We cannot accept returning to the pre-COVID status quo. With good data and strategic investments, we can close the gaps that have existed far too long in our education system. 

The Texas Legislature met funding commitments set forth in HB 3 and billions of federal funds are available, so Texas students should have access to the kind of evidence-based practices we know will work to address the slide in performance, such as high-dosage tutoring efforts and expanded instructional time. 

Also, HB 4545 gives schools the tools and funding necessary to accelerate student learning if school leaders opt into additional programs like the Teacher Incentive Allotment and Additional Day School Year to put their students on a better path forward for the long term.