COVID affects test scores

The disruption from the coronavirus pandemic on students across Texas proved itself when math scores were released on Monday.

The disruption from the coronavirus pandemic on students across Texas proved itself when math scores were released on Monday.

The numbers showed that the state’s students, in grades three through eight, slipped considerably in meeting grade level expectations in the mathematics compared to 2019. The results were released by the Texas Education Agency on Monday morning.

In third grade, 30% of students met grade level or above expectations — down from 48% in 2019. The results were even worse in the seventh grade, where only 25% of students met or exceeded expectations in math. Eighth-grade students showed a 20% decline in math scores compared to 2019.

The results were based off of standardized, or STAAR, testing. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tests were not conducted in 2020. The results were released on a statewide basis with district-level data to be released in the coming weeks.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath tried to work the results into a positive.

“Thankfully, from early on, Texas prioritized the availability of in-person instruction during this tremendously difficult year. When students come into Texas public schools, they are well-served by Texas educators—a fact that these scores confirm,” Morath said. “But it is also painfully clear that the pandemic had a very negative impact on learning. I shudder to consider the long-term impact on children in states that restricted in-person instruction.”

The numbers were equally challenging in other academic areas, including reading. One bright spot was in high school English, where students performed better than 2019 assessments. However, in grades three through eight, every class showed declines compared to 2019. The results for Black and Hispanic students also showed declines. In third grade, 57% of Black students did not meet grade-level expectations, while 47% of Hispanic students failed to meet the standards.

“The data may be disheartening, but with it, our teachers and school leaders are building action plans to support students in the new school year,” Morath said. “Armed with the best information, working closely together, and with significant new supports from the Texas Legislature, we will provide stronger academic growth for students than ever before.”

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