Fifth and eighth grade students in the Fort Worth school district made "encouraging gains" on this year's standardized tests, administrators announced.
Preliminary results show an increase in the percentage of students who passed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Skills (STAAR) tests in math and reading. But scores for Asian students as a whole dropped. The tests were given earlier this month.
This week, third, fourth, sixth and seventh graders took the reading and math tests. Fifth graders took the science test and eighth graders took the science and social studies tests.
On the math test, fifth graders improved their passing rate by seven percentage points. Last year, as fourth graders, 59 percent of those students passed the test. This year, as fifth graders, 66 percent of students passed. African American students showed double digit gains, improving from 40 to 50 percent.
On the reading test, fifth graders improved four percentage points, from 63 to 67 percent passing. And students who took the reading test in Spanish improved nine percentage points, from 68 to 77 percent.
For eighth graders, students jumped 13 percentage points in math, from 58 percent passing as seventh graders to 71 percent passing this year. Gains were even greater for Hispanic students, who jumped from 60 percent passing to 75 percent, a 15 point boost. African American students, too, jumped 15 percentage points, from 41 percent passing to 56 percent.
On the reading test, eighth graders improved four points, from 66 percent to 70 percent passing. Hispanic students had a seven point gain, from 65 to 72 percent passing.
"These preliminary numbers are telling us that we are on track in narrowing the achievement gap among our students," Superintendent Walter Dansby said in a statement. "We are studying the successes as well as those opportunities for improvement during re-test."
The district is studying the results to determine why there were some drops in passing rates for Asian students. For instance, fifth grade math scores dropped nine points from 90 to 81 percent. And eighth grade reading scores dropped 15 points, from 56 to 41 percent.
Spokesman Clint Bond said that it could be due to an influx of students who are still learning English.
The school district point out that the district launched block scheduling for middle schools this year, which provides an extra eight weeks worth of instruction time. Also, the district created learning networks, teams of educators who support teachers and administrators on campuses.