Sherry Williams

Sherry Williams

Fort Bend ISD and Stafford MSD, like many school districts across the state, both showed marked declines in their most recent standardized test results, according to data released recently by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

The trends in Fort Bend County echo issues seen across the state in the wake of the pandemic, where officials noted a 4 percent decline in the percentage of students reading at or above grade level and a 15 percent decline in those at or above grade level in math, according to State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test results.

“The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted traditional education, and the effects may take years to rectify,” said Sherry Williams, a spokesperson for FBISD. “Fort Bend ISD has established support systems to address educational gaps and socioemotional trauma experienced by our students.”

Fort Bend ISD, for instance, saw its most significant decline in the percentage of students approaching grade level in eighth-grade math, where the percentage declined from 85 percent in 2019 to 78 percent, according to the STAAR results.

The district also saw declines in several other categories, though the district remained above the state average in all areas expect eighth-grade math, Williams said.

Stafford MSD’s performance in eighth-grade math was even starker. The district declined from 80 percent approaching grade level in 2019 to just 68 percent in 2021, according to the results.

Officials with Stafford MSD said they could not respond to a request for comment about the scores before July 12.

School districts in Texas notably did not have the same problem with standardized test scores in English I or II, according to the TEA.

State officials in releasing the STAAR results noted that districts with higher percentages of students learning in-person saw smaller declines in their scores.

“Thankfully, from early on, Texas prioritized the availability of in-person instruction during this tremendously difficult year,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. “When students come into Texas public schools, they are well-served by Texas educators – a fact that these scores confirm. But it is also painfully clear that the pandemic had a very negative impact on learning. I shudder to consider the long-term impact on children in states that restricted in-person instruction.”

Districts with 25 percent or less of its student population learning virtually only saw about a 9 percent decrease on test scores in mathematics from 2019 to 2021, compared to a 32-point drop for those districts with 75 percent or more students learning virtually, according to the TEA.

The state did not administer standardized tests in 2020 because of the pandemic, according to the TEA.

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