Following low reading scores, Abbott launches new school initiative


Highlights

Students in all but one grade level did worse on the reading portion of STAAR this year.

The new elementary school initiative will create new tools for teachers, students and parents.

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency have launched an elementary school reading initiative in the wake of declining reading scores on state standardized tests this spring.

Parts of the Texas Readers initiative build on efforts to improve literacy among public school students. However, included in the plan that Abbott outlined on Tuesday are a public service marketing campaign in partnership with PBS, the United Way and Univision; new, free online instructional materials for teachers; and tools to help teachers monitor student progress.

“While Texas has some of the best public schools in the country, there is still more we can do to provide our children with the best education possible,” Abbott said in a news release.

RELATED: Drops in Texas STAAR scores raise questions — and testing angst

This month, the Texas Education Agency released the latest reading scores on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness that showed that students in all but one grade — seventh — did worse than last year. Moak, Casey & Associates, a leading consulting firm in the state on school finance and accountability, has pointed to changes in the way tests were administered this year as a major reason why scores might look worse, calling any comparisons to last year’s scores “apples-to-oranges.” However, even when the consulting firm adjusted for some of the changes, students in almost all grades did worse on the STAAR reading test.

Austin students’ reading scores also declined in grades three through eight.

Mirroring national trends, the state’s reading performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called the Nation’s Report Card, has been relatively stagnant — fourth-grade students are performing 1 point better than they did in 1998.

READ: Hundreds of Texas teachers rally against special session issues

The TEA launched a revamped online portal for parents to see their children’s STAAR scores, how they answered on each question and to offer additional support to help improve scores, especially in reading.

“Reading will always be the foundation that determines success in the classroom for every child at every grade level,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in the news release.

The marketing campaign also will include local family events, free online apps, a text messaging campaign and comprehensive website.

Other parts of Abbott’s reading initiative will include more learning material available to students as well as focused instruction for special education students and those learning English. Teams of coaches will help teachers around the state as well as “literacy coaches, professional development, strategic planning, sustainability support and the ability for districts to pilot programs and models that can be disseminated across the state,” Abbott said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Multiple fire departments working to contain wildfire north of Burnet
Multiple fire departments working to contain wildfire north of Burnet

Burnet County sheriff’s office officials said Sunday night a wildfire estimated to be about 500 acres mostly across ranch land is being worked on by multiple fire departments. The officials said no evacuations were being made, but that they would be issued via reverse 911 if warranted. The wildfire was west of County Road 108 and north of Burnet...
Lakeway police: Mom in hot car charged with child endangerment
Lakeway police: Mom in hot car charged with child endangerment

A Lakeway woman was arrested Saturday on charges of abandoning or endangering a child after police say she refused to roll down the windows in 104-degree heat. Adriane Grace Moss, 34, was found in her car with her 10-year-old son after he called 911, saying he had woken up in the car and had been there for about an hour. Police said Moss refused to...
Three bodies recovered after San Marcos apartment fire
Three bodies recovered after San Marcos apartment fire

Fire investigators recovered three bodies Sunday from the rubble of a fire that broke out early Friday at the Iconic Village and Vintage Pads apartments, San Marcos city officials said. All three people were pronounced dead at the scene, officials said, and their bodies have been taken to the Travis County medical examiner’s office for autopsy...
Texas Digest: Dallas man convicted for Islamic State revenge slaying

DALLAS Man convicted for revenge slaying A 33-year-old man is facing up to life in prison after a Dallas jury convicted him of a slaying prosecutors said was intended as revenge for Islamic State-linked shootings in Garland and San Bernardino, Calif. Anthony Paz Torres was charged with fatally shooting a bystander outside a tire store owned by a Muslim...
Woman airlifted from Mount Bonnell
Woman airlifted from Mount Bonnell

A woman has been air-lifted from Mount Bonnell to a hospital after sustaining a leg injury, Austin Fire Department officials said. Emergency crews responded to the call around 11 a.m. Sunday after the woman reportedly tripped and fell on the trail. The woman is in stable condition with minor injuries, EMS said.
More Stories