English teachers attempt to improve STAAR test scores

By Ari Schnitzer | Journalism 1

English teachers are attempting to help students rebound from their mediocre passing rate on last spring’s STAAR English I Writing end-of-course exam. The teachers are giving the students a curriculum that directly corresponds with the EOC test rather than a curriculum created specifically for each individual English class.

While the 68 percent passing rate is above both the state and district average for the Writing I EOC, is it the lowest passing rate among the EOC exams taken by Pearce students last spring.

“The scores were low because we’ve gone back to a test-centered curriculum,” Pre-AP English 2 teacher Lindsey Lundquist said.

Blame can be pointed in many different directions for the low passing rate. Some students believe that the fault lies with the teachers.

“We weren’t prepared for the test,” sophomore Anthony Santos
said. “The teachers really didn’t prepare us well enough.”

The STAAR EOC is a new test for the district, and many Pearce students were used to the previously administered TAKS test. The implementation of the EOC gave students a little bit of a difficulty shock.

“TAKS didn’t fully challenge me mentally,” sophomore Jacob Wells said.
“I was surprised by the EOC and how it made you think a lot more about what you were reading. I struggled on it.”

“Students are now limited to 26 lines for an essay,” Pre-AP English teacher Elizabeth Svadlenak said. “They could use two pages for an essay on the old test, and now they only have one. The test is more rigorous now. It’s harder to write expository with less space when they’ve been writing about themselves on every test before.”

Improving the scores on the upcoming test in April has required teachers to change the focus of their classes.

“Now we have to do a lot of rhetorical writing, like persuasive writing, which we have never done before prior to the test,” Mrs. Lundquist said. “We’re trying to focus on how to add depth to writing. That comes in the form of finding a specific example, a narrowed focus that goes deeper, quality versus quantity.”

Despite last year’s scores, teachers still see the positive in taking the EOC.

“The modes of writing on this test are what kids will use the rest of their lives,” Mrs. Svadlenak said.

The approach to the test has been changed to adapt to the style of the EOC. The only thing waiting to change now is the results.

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Categories: News

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