By A.C. Hall
The Benbrook City Council and city officials held a meeting with the Fort Worth ISD Board of Education at Benbrook Middle School on Thursday to talk about all the schools in the Benbrook area.
The new STAAR test was heavily discussed, as it has now spent a year as the new test in Texas schools, taking over for the TAKS. With only a year in place, STAAR test results were compared on a school by school basis versus the state average.
Benbrook Elementary was discussed first. With 536 students, this school is ahead of the state in most STAAR testing subjects. Waverly Park Elementary has 811 students, and they are outpacing state averages in most STAAR subjects.
The STAAR results at Benbrook Middle School were down in several subjects. FWISD officials explained that one reason for this is because many of the grade 8 students at the school took the grade 9 STAAR tests, meaning their results weren’t added in to the overall Benbrook Middle scores.
Leonard Middle School was one of two schools where STAAR results were lagging behind state averages. School officials said they are working hard to turn this around and expect scores to rise in the coming years.
Western Hills High School also is behind with testing scores. The English 1 STAAR scores were far below state averages, and school officials said it came as a wake up call. They spoke of aggressive tactics and programs that are being implemented in order to reverse the scores and help them recover.
The drastic difference between the STAAR test and the long used TAKS was discussed, with the STAAR being called a whole different type of test. FWISD officials said the STAAR requires more thinking, and presents problems that ask the student to select the “best” answer, and that there isn’t always a “right” answer. This was said to be a big change from the black and white, right and wrong style of TAKS and other traditional tests.
Council members asked questions and made comments after a presentation about the schools. Council member Jim Wilson commented on running clubs that are held at some of the schools. Wilson spoke about the importance of physical fitness and praised those school officials who run these clubs.
“What a terrific program,” Wilson said.
Another question came from council member Rickie Allison, who asked why scores drop so much in the fifth and sixth grade areas. He was told that it could be a transition issue, as many of those students are moving from having a few teachers into new schools where they have a full slate of classes and teachers. It was said that this is a common drop across the district, and represents a difficult year for students.
The struggle for American schools in the math and science subjects was brought up. School officials talked about a complete curriculum revision that is more focused and user friendly for teachers could help combat this.
Council member Charles Anderson spoke about this, saying that he feels too much pressure is put on American students when it comes to subjects like math.
“We expect everybody to be a math genius, and we’re just not built that way,” Anderson said.
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