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San Antonio STAAR Scores: Reading and Algebra Gaps Remain for African American Students

Updated: Jun 25

Back in 1994, Dr. Maria "Cuca" Robledo and Jose Cardenas, Ph.D wrote an insightful article about the achievement gaps of minority students in Bexar County (San Antonio, TX). At that time, the standardized test used to measure student achievement was the TAAS test. In 2003, the TAKS test was implemented, and from 2012 until today students in Texas take the STAAR test, which is considered a more rigorous and comprehensive assessment. Despite the change in test, the authors' contention that "the educational system has poorly served children from ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged homes" remains largely unchanged.

San Antonio's most recent STAAR test results, continue to highlight ongoing achievement gaps for African American students, particularly in reading and algebra. While all student groups saw a mix of successes and challenges, the data suggests a need for immediate and targeted interventions to support historically underserved communities.

Reading Scores:

  • District Averages: Across the three largest districts (North East ISD, Northside ISD, and San Antonio ISD), the percentage of students meeting or exceeding reading standards ranged from 35.3% to 39.8%.

  • African American Students: The percentage of African American students meeting or exceeding reading standards fell significantly below the district averages, ranging from roughly 11% to 19.5%.

Algebra Scores:

  • District Averages: Similar trends emerged in Algebra. District averages for meeting or exceeding standards hovered around 30%, with some variation.

  • African American Students: African American student performance lagged behind, with the percentage meeting or exceeding standards falling below 10% in all three districts.

Beyond Early Literacy and Curriculum:

These results call for focused efforts that address the achievement gap on a deeper level. While early literacy programs and culturally relevant curricula are essential, they can't be the sole solution.

The Importance of Representation and Engagement:

As a Black male who grew up in San Antonio's school system, I can attest to the fact that traditional methods often fail to ignite a passion for learning in African American students. Many, like myself, struggle to see themselves reflected in the curriculum and may find school disengaging.

The Power of Self-Belief:

The one factor that truly transformed my academic journey was seeing positive representations of Black achievement in history. Learning about figures like Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass instilled a sense of belonging and self-belief that ignited a curiosity for learning that transcended the classroom.

Looking Ahead:

San Antonio's schools must move beyond implementing generic programs. We need a multi-pronged approach that:

  • Prioritizes Representation: This means integrating diverse voices and stories throughout the curriculum to foster a sense of belonging for all students.

  • Focuses on Student Engagement: Develops engaging and culturally relevant teaching methods that spark curiosity and a love of learning.

  • Mentorship Programs: Connects African American students with positive role models who can provide guidance and support.

Collaboration is Key:

Addressing these challenges is not insurmountable. It requires collaboration between educators, administrators, community leaders, and, most importantly, the students. By working together and fostering a culture of self-belief, San Antonio's schools can ensure all students, regardless of race or background, have the opportunity to thrive.

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