Missouri student test scores improve slightly, remain behind pre-pandemic levels

(The Center Square) – Missouri public school students didn’t reach pre-pandemic levels on last year’s statewide tests, but scores show some improvement over 2020-21.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released statewide preliminary data for 2021-22 grade levels on end-of-course assessments during today’s State Board of Education meeting. The percentage of students with proficient or advanced performance levels in key subject areas statewide were:

English Language Arts (ELA), 42%;Math, 39%;Science, 38%;Social Studies, 40%.

District and school-level assessment results will be distributed in December.

DESE’s announcement on the test scores stated the COVID-19 pandemic continued to cause learning disruptions, periods of quarantine and chronic absenteeism for both students and staff during the current school year.

“Districts and charter schools across the state continued to face unique challenges during the 2021-22 school year while working hard to focus on the well being and academic success of students,” DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven said in a statement announcing the results.

The ELA and Math results were from grades 3-8, and Science was from grades 5-8. ELA had mixed results by grade level, according to the report. Math and Science scores increased in all grades and courses. Students’ proficiency decreased in Social Studies/Government.

“Nothing about this past school year was typical,” Vandeven said. “We must remain vigilant in educating our students and I urge everyone to review the data through an informational lens, using these key takeaways to shape how state and local resources are best deployed to support ongoing student success.”

Earlier this month, DESE published a report on the impact of lost instruction time due to shutdowns and other disruptions caused by the pandemic. The data on 2021-22 testing affirmed students who were disabled, Black, Hispanic or economically disadvantaged had larger learning loss than other students.

However, students who received free-and-reduced-price lunches (FRL) and those who didn’t qualify for the program both had similar declines – 15% – when reviewing the percentages testing proficient or advanced in all content areas and all grades.

The report stated that 42% of students taking the statewide assessment received FRL in 2022. The percentage of students receiving FRL in all grades whose test scores were rated proficient or advanced in all tested content areas declined from 32% in 2018 to 27% in 2022. Those not receiving FRL in all grades also had a decline in the percentage testing proficient or advanced, from 60% in 2018 to 51% in 2022.

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