California test scores show deep pandemic drops; math worst

Two in three California students failed to meet state math standards and more than half failed to meet English standards in state assessments conducted in the spring, reflecting a significant drop in performance compared to the year before the pandemic, when a large number of students already did had trouble living up to the expectations of the grade level.

The test scores are even more devastating for Black, Hispanic, low-income and other historically underserved students — 84% of Black students and 79% of Hispanic and low-income students failed to meet state math standards in 2022.

The dismal results provide further evidence of the profound challenges facing California schools as educators focus on helping children with multibillion-dollar investments in public education recover from deep pandemic setbacks. The results have also reinforced the troubling fact that even before the pandemic, 60% of California students were tested below grade in math and almost half in English.

In 2022, 53% of students were not meeting grade level expectations in English language arts/literacy. 70% of Black students did not meet the standards, 64% of Latino students, and 65% of low-income students.

In both English and math, the percentage of students who failed to meet expectations increased in many demographic groups compared to the year before the pandemic.

For example, in the 2018-19 school year, about 46% of white students failed to meet state math standards. In the 2021-22 school year, 52% did not meet the standards. 26% of Asian students were not meeting math standards before the pandemic. In the school year 2021/22 it was 31%.

The data suggests the pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on many student groups. They also show that traditionally underserved students face massive academic recovery challenges.

16 percent of black students met state standards for the math test, compared to 21 percent in 2019, and 30 percent met standards for the art of English, compared to 33 percent in 2019.

Among Latinos, 21% met standards on the math test, compared to 28% in 2019; and 36% met standards in English language arts, compared to 41% in 2019.

California’s findings came just hours after the nation’s report card was released Sunday night. The national assessment — which differs from California’s exam — also showed significant declines in math and reading scores in much of the country. Eighth graders in almost every state and fourth graders in a large majority of states, including California, have seen average math scores drop since the pandemic in what Education Secretary Miguel Cardona described as a “heartbreaking” academic setback.

“The data before the pandemic did not reflect an education system that was on track,” Cardona said. “The pandemic has only made it worse. It took a poor performance and dropped them even further.

Referring to the nationwide picture, Beverly Perdue, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, said, “We’re talking about a really serious erosion of children’s literacy and counting skills in the next generation of the workforce… And this is becoming a global economic problem for America.” .”

The national test results were less dire for California than some experts had feared. Grades fell in math but remained stable in reading. However, they do not reflect strong student performance. Before the pandemic, the state underperformed in reading and math compared to the national average.

And the results of the national test mean that only about 30% of California’s eighth graders achieved reading proficiency. About 23% achieved proficiency in mathematics.

The national tests, which will be administered to a sample of fourth- and eighth-graders in early 2022, will measure how well students across the country are doing based on frameworks developed by the National Assessment Governing Board. These tests allow comparisons between states.

Peggy Carr, commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics, said the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress provide inconclusive answers about how time spent in virtual classes affected student performance.

“Nothing in this data suggests that we can draw a straight line between the time spent on distance learning and student achievement,” she said.

The decline in math scores was particularly sharp and widespread, particularly for eighth graders, a year that is a crucial stepping stone to higher math. In California, where the vast majority of schools were closed until spring 2021, the values ​​fell by six points. In Texas and Florida — where schools opened earlier — scores fell seven points, and in Oklahoma, where schools also started earlier, they fell 13 points.

“We have a generation of students whose academic careers have been derailed,” Carr said. “So parents need to know that this is a serious issue. This is not to be taken lightly. And they must work with their schools and their teachers to help their students. And it’s no good just going back to normal because normal hasn’t been good for some of us, has it?”

The California Assessment of Student Achievement and Progress is designed to assess whether students meet the class standards set by the state Department of Education.

The tests are conducted in spring for all students in grades three through eight and eleven. A key difference is that the national tests target reading comprehension specifically, while the California tests focus more generally on the art/literacy of the English language, which includes writing. Listening and Research/Inquiry.

This was the first year since the 2018/19 school year that state exams were fully administered. They were enacted for the 2019-20 academic year after the campus closed in March 2020. The following year was largely remote and less than a quarter of the students took the English and Maths tests.

State officials struggled to place the test results in a broader context.

“It’s fair that people are concerned about the experiences children have had,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in an interview. “But we also had 99,000 Californians who lost their lives to COVID. And we did the things we thought we had to do to save lives…Now is the time to focus on how we can accelerate student recovery.”

Officials also pointed to so-called “hopeful signs” in the data.

An analysis by the Department of Education that compared the performance of students who took the 2020-21 English language arts and math tests to how the same students performed in 2022 “showed steeper-than-normal increases in performance at most grade levels,” state officials said in an interpretation guide presented with the results.

Thurmond highlighted the state’s recent investments, including efforts to hire 10,000 more counselors and $4 billion for “community schools” designed to provide comprehensive help for the needs of students and families.

The state also has a phased plan to add an academic year by allowing all 4-year-olds to enroll in a public school and is providing $250 million for literacy, money that pays for literacy coaches and other specialists can become.

Thurmond cited tutoring programs, longer school days, and longer school years as well-documented methods for accelerating student learning.

Funding is available for such efforts in the short to medium term, but districts have had problems recruiting the necessary staff and implementing recovery plans.

LA Unified struggled to get tutoring for students and could not overcome opposition to an extended school year. California test scores show deep pandemic drops; math worst

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