Assessment scores decline for first time in years
January 24, 2022
Data has limited uses due to low participation and COVID-related challenges
State leaders got a glimpse into the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on learning when the California Department of Education released student assessment scores for 2020-21 this month.
Data from the CAASPP, California Science Test, alternative and English language proficiency were released, along with data on absenteeism, discipline and graduation rates.
Scores declined for the first time in years and showed a widening achievement gap between student groups. The four-year cohort graduation rate also lowered by 0.6 percent to 84.2 percent.
The assessments were completed by roughly 25 percent of California students in a year where most students learned from home, leading the CDE to caution that the data is “limited in both scope and use.”
“COVID-19 not only created challenges for teaching and learning but also for the administration of the statewide assessments,” according to a CDE release.
The federal testing requirement was waived in 2019-20, however federal testing was required in 2020-21. To ease the burden, the schools administered shorter versions of the Smarter Balanced English language arts and math tests or had the option to use another local assessment.
To help school leaders analyzing this data, the CDE has developed an interpretation guide.
“Our road ahead is clear — we must continue to focus our energy and resources in supporting our students, families, and educators so they not only recover from the impacts of COVID-19 but thrive in days ahead,” said State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, in a news release.
“This must remain our top priority. I am grateful to the Legislature and Governor Newsom for last year’s historic education package that provides a record-high level of funding to help transform our system to one dedicated to addressing all the impacts of COVID-19 on our students — academic, behavioral, social-emotional and physical.”
Other key highlights from the data release:
  • 49.01 percent of all students in all grades met or exceeded standards for English language arts, down from 51.1 percent in 2018-19.
  • 33.79 percent of all students in all grades met or exceeded standards for math, down from 39.7 percent in 2018-19.
  • 28.72 percent of all students met or exceeded standards for science.
  • 13.98 percent of English learners taking the summative assessment scored proficient.
  • The statewide suspension rate hit an all-time low, as might be expected for a year of mostly remote learning.
  • Statewide chronic absenteeism rate increased 2.2 percentage points in 2020–21 to 14.3 percent. Students are considered chronically absent if they miss 10 percent or more of school days per school year.
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