Despite gains, BSISD test scores lag behind region

Big Spring school officials say improvement has been made on standardized test scores, but even more improvement is needed to bring the local district in line with other schools in this region.Big Spring Independent School District has been operating under the black cloud of an Academically Unacceptable rating for the past three years, mainly because of poor student scores on state standardized tests, so major efforts have been made to improve both classroom and test performance.The result of all that effort, as explained to BSISD trustees Thursday, has been both encouraging and frustrating.Becky Saldivar, testing coordinator for the district, told trustees that 2012 results from the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) standardized test for students in grades 3 through 8 showed improvement in almost every subject and grade level from the dark days of 2010.That's the good news.The bad news was that, despite that improvement, BSISD test scores still lag behind those from other schools in this region in just about every statistical category.“In 2012, our students made improvement in almost every grade … from the last two years,” said Becky Saldivar, testing coordinator for the district. “This is very encouraging. It shows us the hard work is starting to pay off. But we know we still have a lot of work to do and that's something we're working on all the time.”The Texas Education Agency put off issuing accountability ratings to school districts in 2012 as students began making the transition from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) to STAAR. This year, however, a complex new rating system will take effect, and BSISD officials conceded they don't have any indication on how high or low the district will be rated.Complicating the district's task even further is that passing standards for the STAAR have been dramatically increased over its predecessor test.But Saldivar believes that as long as local students continue showing improvement in their classroom work and on their test scores, positive results and ratings won't be far behind.“The thing that is encouraging is that (in 2011) … in almost every subject and grade level, we showed no improvement in test scores (from 2010_, and (in 2012), we had improvement almost across-the-board from l(2011),” she said. “I can give parents the assurance that there is good instruction going on every day. Our students may not yet be the greatest test takers just yet, but they're being great learners.”STAAR testing in grades 3 through 8 this year begins April 12.Also Thursday, trustees approved a change in the way the district conducts school board elections, approving a resolution to allow new trustees to be elected by a plurality instead of by a majority of votes.In other business, trustees:• Officially set May 11 as the date for trustee elections. Seats up for election this year include District 5, currently held by Chad Wash, and Districts 6 and 7, in which Jeff Brorman and Phil Furqueron are the incumbents.Wash filed his candidacy for re-election Wednesday. Brorman said he is undecided whether he will run again, while Furqueron said he will not seek re-election.• Approved renewal of contract for administrators, directors and coordinators, as well as legal and local policy updates.