While fewer freshmen in Fort Worth ISD are failing a core class, new figures show most students are not able to pass algebra or meet state expectations on the SAT and ACT.
The school board received a presentation at its Jan. 24 meeting detailing these numbers, which are considered indicators of students’ readiness for college, military or a career.
In the fall, 23% of freshmen failed at least one core course. In the first semester of the 2021-22 school year, that number was 38%.
That 15 percentage point drop is encouraging for Sarah Arispe, associate superintendent of accountability and data. Still, she told trustees students and teachers have plenty of work ahead to improve that number.
“Obviously, our goal is that no student would fail, of course. But we are making great progress compared to prior years,” she said.
In the class of 2022, Fort Worth ISD saw a dip in the number of graduates who scored high enough on the SAT or ACT to be considered college, career or military ready. Preliminary data showed 13% of last year’s graduates meeting the state’s readiness criteria.
That figure is 13 percentage points lower than the school board-set goal of 26% for 2023. Last year, the goal was 25%. The goal increased to 27% in 2024.
Trustee Camille Rodriguez questioned administrators over why so few students are hitting the mark on the SAT or ACT. She also described the goals as seemingly low.
The goals were set in 2018 and were based on a low-starting point, Arispe said. The school board can raise the goals, if that’s what it wants.
Arispe pinned part of the low numbers on two reasons: The data tends to lag behind a year and the COVID-19 pandemic meant some students were not able to take the tests.
Fort Worth ISD allows students to take the SAT and ACT during a school day, Arispe said. She estimated between 90 to 95% of students take the test, which is free.
Hearing that nearly all Fort Worth ISD students who are ready to take the SAT or ACT do so gave Rodriguez pause.
“I’m glad our students are taking it, but if only 27% are meeting — that’s not good,” Rodriguez said.
All high school campuses have free, optional SAT prep classes, Chief Academic Officer Marcey Sorensen said.
Trustee Michael Ryan asked administrators if they keep data on how much students improve after taking the prep classes. Arispe was not sure if the district does that, but said his idea was good.
Ryan, a former Fort Worth ISD administrator, had a reason behind asking.
“If I can show that there’s an increase, it’s easier for me to talk to parents and get their kids in the classrooms during the school year and summer,” Ryan said.
Fort Worth ISD also is not on track to meet its Algebra I goals. Across all freshmen, 56% are projected to pass the end-of-course exam. The district’s goal is 85%. The goal looks at students who approach grade level and above on the test.
Last spring, 23% of freshmen met grade level on the Algebra I test, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.