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The Tyler ISD administrative offices building, 1319 Earl Campbell Parkway, is pictured on Wednesday Aug. 29, 2018. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Results from the state-mandated End of Course exams show John Tyler High School students making major strides, while performance at Robert E. Lee High School has leveled out after several years of gains.

The results from the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness are broken down into four categories based on where students should be for their grade level — did not meet, approaches, meets and masters. This system went into place with the Spring 2017 tests.

The biggest gain at John Tyler was an 11 percentage point increase in students approaching grade level for Algebra I.

John Tyler saw an improvement in all categories except for English II, which saw a 2 percentage point drop.

Tyler ISD Assistant Superintendent of Schools Rawly Sanchez said the district typically looks for drops of 5 to 7 percentage points or larger when looking for setbacks.

Sanchez said the success seen at John Tyler could be attributed to several factors, including student commitment and staff buy-in.

“I think it’s a couple of things,” he said. “It’s a deep understanding of what the data looks like and what the kids need to do. The level of staff commitment has played a huge part in it as well, making sure kids are having success.”

At Lee, the school remained level or saw 3 percentage point or less decreases in most categories. The school did see a 4 percentage point increase in English I and held even in U.S. History with a 2 percentage point bump in “meets” for that test.

While Lee did see small decreases in Algebra I and Biology, the school’s results still fell at or above state average in all categories except for Algebra I. The results also are above the 2017 numbers for the school.

The district expected to see Lee level off after receiving distinctions in every category for the past few years. The school still outperformed state averages in “masters” on all but Algebra I and Biology tests.

“That’s normal when you have three or four years of success, you’re going to have a year or two when you go standard, if you will,” Sanches said. “It kind of levels off and then you regroup and take it to the next level.”

The district also has seen a shift of high performing students opting to study at its Early College High School, which saw stellar returns. Students at ECHS work toward their associate degree while still in high school.

The school saw nearly all of its students earn a “meets” rating in every category, with the lowest being 87 percent meets in English I and the highest at 94 percent meets in U.S. History. The school’s masters levels also were far above state average.

Statewide, only 8 percent of students achieve a masters rating in English II, while ECHS saw 25 percent of students earn masters.

Both Lee and John Tyler have seen across-the-board improvements under the new rating system. Data from prior to 2017 is not comparable because it involved a different rating system.

The district also had more than 400 students from its middle schools take the high school level Algebra I exam, with the majority from each campus achieving masters ratings.

Sanchez said the district is proud of the commitment to achieving success that parents, students and administrators have made.

Students at RISE Academy, the district’s credit recovery and dropout prevention campus, still must pass the STAAR tests to graduate, but the campus is rated under the state’s alternative campus standards.

STAAR results for the lower grades are expected to be ready before the end of the month.

TWITTER: @TMT_Cory

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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