FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth’s school district knew when it scored low marks on a crucial statewide academic test it would have to rush to make improvements. After all, they know just what the scores mean to parents.

“It’s definitely the number one determining factor when going into a school district,” said Kristina Olson, whose daughter is in fourth grade.  “You want to pick out a school system that’s going to give them the best education they can get.”

The all-important measuring stick for schools is the new State of Texas Assesments of Academic Readiness or STAAR test.

Overall in Texas, around 70-percent or more of students passed last year’s exams.  In Fort Worth, those numbers hovered around 50 and 60 percent.

The category with some of the lowest passing marks was 8th grade social science.  Only 59-percent passed statewide. Just 48-percent passed in Texas.

“Oh wow! That’s sad,” Olson said when she heard the numbers.  “I certainly would like to hear something better than that.”

“As an urban school district, we receive students who are in various stages of preparation,” said FWISD spokeperson Clint Bond. “So, to say we were disappointed I don’t think is completely accurate.  We were not surprised at some of the results and with some of the results we were even pleased we did better than anticipated.”

Bond said the district was already in the process of overhauling its curriculum when it learned of the results last year.

The brand new test meant teachers had few guidelines to better prepare for it.

Bond says immediately after the test results came in the district rerached out to parents, community leaders and college presidents to find ways to better prepare students for this year’s STAAR test.

Now he says the curriculum is better tailored to improve STAAR scores.

“We do know we have work to be done, and we’ve been doing that work for a year,” Bond said. “And we anticipate the results will be different not only this year but in ensuing years.”

This years STAAR testing begins in April and continues into May.

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