Amid the pandemic, Missouri standardized test scores have declined year over year and subject to subject • Missouri Independent


Preliminary results from the statewide assessment tests of Missouri administered last spring amid the pandemic show scores have declined in nearly all grade levels and subjects tested, with the largest drop in mathematics.

Results for the 2020-21 school year, which were released by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday, show that less than half of Missouri students succeeded with performing and advanced grades in all subjects.

Tests show that only 45 percent of students are proficient or proficient in English, 35 percent in math and 37 percent in science. The results of the social studies exams will be available in the coming weeks.

Compared to the 2018-19 school year results, this represents a drop of four points in English, seven points in mathematics and five points in science – although public education officials point out that the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the last spring’s tests make general comparisons with previous years. poor application of data.

The first results reflect what national estimates have indicated: That students are behind what they would normally be, with greater disparities in mathematics, among younger students, minority students and those in very poor schools.

Early results also indicated that proficiency rates were higher for Missouri students in onsite and hybrid education than those in distance or virtual education.

State-wide performance rate for each subject among grade level and end-of-course assessments administered in the 2020-21 school year. (Screenshot of the Department of Primary and Secondary Education infographic)

The results are the first statewide snapshot of student performance since 2019, as testing for the Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, was suspended in 2020 and performance reports were not. published for the 2019-2020 school year.

Education commissioner Margie Vandeven told reporters on Monday that the department hopes to use the results as a flashlight to illuminate problems, rather than a hammer to quell them.

“Our students are more than test results,” said Vandeven.

Last December, the Missouri State Board of Education voted to require state assessments to be administered but disregard their results in state or federal accountability systems.

DESE too received approval from the US Department of Education waive federal reporting and accountability requirements.

With teachers and students absent for weeks due to quarantines, adapting to blended and virtual learning, and experiencing higher levels of stress and fatigue during the school year amid the pandemic, the DESE officials stressed that the results should not be used for issues’ such as teacher evaluations.

“General comparisons to evaluation data from previous years that ignore this long list of variables would be serious data misuse,” said Vandeven, “and absolutely not what we’re working to do.”

The largest drop in all subjects was a 9.8% drop in the percentage of students passing Algebra 1.

Likewise, the percentage of third-graders who pass math fell about nine points from 2019 to 37%. For fourth-graders, that score dropped about seven points to 40 percent, and for fifth-graders, that score dropped seven points to 33 percent, according to data presented to the State Board of Education. .

Meanwhile, the smallest declines were in English assessments for fourth and eighth graders, which remained the same and fell by one percentage point respectively, and in math for students. eighth grade, which resulted in a drop of two percentage points.

The proficiency rates for the optional English 1 end-of-course assessment were slightly higher, at 62%, compared to 2019 scores, and the percentage of students who passed the final exams in the physical sciences remained stable at 37%.

Broken down by ethnicity, students who identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, or Multiracial experienced the largest drops in proficiency and advanced scores from 2019, with drops of six percentage points each . Hispanic students saw a drop of five percentage points, and white and Native American or Alaska Native students each saw a drop of four percentage points – lower than the average of a five percentage point drop for all the students.

Overall, students who identified as Asian or Pacific Islander had the highest proficiency rate at 56 percent. Black students had the lowest at 15 percent.

Vandeven said parents and families should welcome test results as another data point. Over the next several weeks, students are expected to receive their individual reports which can help point out where they may need additional support, such as one-on-one tutoring, Vandeven said.

District and school results will be released later this fall.

“We’re all in the same ocean, but not in the same boat,” Vandeven said. “Which means, of course, that a global pandemic impacts each of us, but in different ways. “

The department said it would continue to study the findings to help identify learning trends across fashions and demographics and aims to allocate federal aid funds to resources such as targeting the digital divide and evidence-based professional learning for teachers.

“We don’t just want to find ourselves where we were before the pandemic, we want to go beyond it as a state”, Lisa Sireno, DESE’s standards and assessment administrator, told the State Board of Education on Tuesday.

Report to the Council of State-DESE-2020-21-Preliminary-Statewide-MAP-Data

Study the teaching methods

While participation was lower – with an average of around 4,300 under-tested students in each grade level – Sireno said on Monday that overall participation was still high, reinforcing the validity of the results.

The participation rate for assessments in English was 91.4 percent, math 90.5 percent and science 92.5 percent.

Just over half of the students, 51 percent, were educated on-site; 31 percent in a hybrid model; 10 percent in virtual education; and 8 percent in a remote method where certain instructions are given online.

This was the first time the department has collected data on learning patterns at the student level, Sireno said, stressing that it was too early to tell if there is a cause and effect relationship.

Overall, proficiency rates were higher for students in onsite and hybrid education than those in distance or virtual education.

For example, in mathematics, 77.2% of virtual education students achieved basic level or lower than basic and 82.2% of distance education students were also at basic or lower level. .

This compares to 60.7% of students at these same levels in on-site education and 63.3% in hybrid education.

Overall, 81 percent of students had access to a device while 78 percent had access to the Internet, and likewise, success rates tended to be higher for those who had access to the Internet or a device. .

Vandeven said the department plans to take this data on the mode of primary education – which was collected three times in the past school year – and work with researchers at the University of Missouri to assess differences in teaching methods and performance.

Melissa Randol, executive director of the Missouri School Boards’ Association, said in a statement after the results were released that they reinforced what was already known: that teaching in person makes a difference.

“And when you can’t teach in person, Internet access and adequate bandwidth make all the difference,” Randol said. “Our teachers and students have done a fantastic job under the circumstances during this pandemic – we cannot lose sight of that.”

Last year, a survey of members of the Missouri State Teachers Association found that most wanted this year’s assessments to be suspended altogether. Bruce Moe, executive director of the organization, echoed Randol’s comments in a statement Tuesday on the importance of in-person learning and hailed educators as “heroes in their communities across the state.”

This year, schools are to prioritize in-person learning after the State Board of Education repealed a rule allowing long-term mass distance learning. In the first weeks of school, thousands of students and staff have been quarantined.

Vandeven said it was too early to assess whether statewide testing would also be exempt from liability measures this coming school year, but stressed the importance of in-person learning and metrics mitigation that can help facilitate it safely.

However, when asked if the department plans to implement more uniform requirements, like wearing masks, to help ensure students are in class statewide, Vandeven said she believed that current statewide guidelines provide a consistent approach.

“We started this pandemic and we continue to go through this pandemic, understanding that the local context is important and that Missouri is a state of local control,” said Vandeven.

This story has been updated since it was first posted.

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