By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
Students in the Killeen and Copperas Cove school districts met or exceeded statewide passing rates for Texas' new standardized tests.
"It felt great," said Cindy Hutcherson, the Copperas Cove Independent School District's executive director of curriculum and assessment. "It was a relief to finally get that data."
Earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency released scores for the first year of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness end-of-course tests.
The exams, which included tests for ninth-graders in reading, writing, algebra I, geometry, biology and world geography, were designed to be more rigorous than the state's previous assessment test: the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.
In Cove, passing rates were above the state average on five tests. For example, approximately 76 percent of Cove students who took the reading exam met the passing standards, compared to 68 percent statewide.
"When I initially sat down and calculated the results, I was very pleased," said Richard Kirkpatrick, Copperas Cove High School's principal. "The teachers and staff worked very hard to prepare these students for a new test."
Students in the Killeen Independent School District performed in a similar fashion, exceeding the state's passing rates on six end-of-course exams. That included an 83 percent passing rate on the world geography test - two percentage points higher that the state average, and an 89 percent passing rate in biology, which also was two percentage points higher than the state's rate.
While ninth-graders in both districts met or exceeded the state's passing rates this year, the scores were based on lower standards that will increase as the state phases in the more rigorous exams over the next four years.
"Each year, we are going to see the passing standards increase, so we still have a lot of work to do," said Kirkpatrick. "Our teachers and students did a great job this year, and we are only going to get better as we move forward."
The district also received raw scores for STAAR tests taken by students in third through eighth grade. However, the state is not expected to set passing standards until January for those students.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.
STAAR end-of-course exams
Algebra I - 83 percent passed
Biology - 87 percent passed
English I, reading - 68 percent passed
English I, writing - 55 percent passed
Geometry - 98 percent passed
World geography - 81 percent passed
Algebra I - 84 percent passed
Biology - 89 percent passed
English I, reading - 70 percent passed
English I, writing - 58 percent passed
Geometry - 98 percent passed
World geography - 83 percent passed
Copperas Cove ISD
Algebra I - 88 percent passed
Biology - 92 percent passed
English I, reading - 76 percent passed
English I, writing - 60 percent passed
Geometry - N/A
World geography - 86 percent passed
Sources: Texas Education Agency, Killeen Independent School District, Copperas Cove Independent School District