The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently released results of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for spring 2021. (See https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/2021-staar-analysis-presentation.pdf for a summary.) The tests cover mathematics and reading for grades 3–8 as well as writing and science for some grades, 8th grade social studies, and high school end-of-course exams in Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and US History. The results indicate abysmal outcomes pretty much across the board when compared to 2019, as districts struggled to deal with disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even before the pandemic, Texas schools faced daunting challenges. About 88% of students were economically disadvantaged. Two ethnic groups that comprised about two-thirds of enrollment (and rapidly growing) held less than 8% of the state's wealth. Many districts had massive infrastructure deficiencies, while others struggled to keep pace with explosive growth. As if that weren't enough, Texas ranked 41st nationally in spending per student.