By HANK MURPHY
Preliminary STAAR test results for the Mineola ISD show generally solid performances by middle and high school students, but the district’s third- through fifth-graders continue to struggle to reach state averages.
District-wide, MISD made gains in a majority of areas, according to Superintendent Kim Tunnell. Meanwhile, the district continues to focus on its Primary School (kindergarten through second grade) as a way to improve student performance at the elementary school level.
“We’ve really been putting a lot of energy and level of support into our primary campus, because we know that foundation is laid in kindergarten through second grade. We’ve been tracking our students there and we know that we’ve gotten better over the past few years at sending our second-graders into third grade at higher levels of performance. Then they build upon that in the elementary. So we’re in a process of strengthening that system,” she said.
STAAR is an acronym for State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has set a goal for school districts to achieve “30/60/90” by 2030. The objective is to have 90 percent of the students approach the grade level, 60 percent meet grade level and 30 percent master the grade level for each of the STAAR tests by the year 2030.
In reading and math, Mineola Elementary School students trailed state averages in approaching grade level, meeting grade level and mastering grade level.
“We’re not at the state average yet (for elementary students), so that’s an area of focus,” she noted.
One challenge is the growing number of English-as-a-second language students in the Mineola district. Getting those students at or beyond grade level “continues to be a struggle for us,” said Tunnell.
“That population is growing in Mineola, so we know that it’s really an important aspect to get them proficient in English and support them,” she said.
Although MISD continues to seek academic improvement in its early grades, its broader mission is to expose each of its students to the best possible education, according to Tunnell.
“Our main focus is on the growth of every child. So no matter what level they are at, we want to move them forward. If they’re high performing, what can we do to enrich them and continue to accelerate them. If they’re struggling, then what layers of support (and interventions) can we put in place to help them meet their potential.”