Sept. 29, 2021

What Test Scores Can Tell Us About Student Learning in a Pandemic

A middle school student works on a laptop computer during class at Bridge Creek Elementary School in Blanchard on Nov. 21, 2019. Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch

The state Education Department plans to release results from the spring 2021 state tests this week, giving the public the first statewide picture of student achievement since 2018-19.

Federal law requires schools to test students each year in reading in math in grades third through eighth and periodically in science, plus once in high school. The tests were not held in 2020, when the U.S. Department of Education waived the requirements for the first time in decades. The exams returned in 2021, a year when many students struggled with online learning, spotty internet, school closures and difficult family circumstances including job losses, illnesses and death.

The department in a letter to states said testing students, and reporting the results, was vitally important to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on student learning and to address educational inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.

I expect we’ll see significant declines, based on what other states have already reported and the educational disruptions we know happened here, too. And I expect some folks will miss important context around this year’s scores, like decreased participation. But at Oklahoma Watch, we’re going to keep the focus on this part emphasized by the department: educational inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.

The state Board of Education meets at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and is expected to review the scores as they are revealed to the public. The meeting will be live streamed on the state Education Department’s Facebook page.

What questions do you have about the state test results? How should the state address educational inequities? As always, email and DMs open. Have a great week.

Jennifer Palmer

Masked, Vaccinated and COVID-19 Positive: Why Some Teachers Say This Year’s Precautions Are Still Not Enough

Even teachers who took the personal responsibility of getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are contracting coronavirus and getting sick. [Read More…]

What I’m Reading

  • The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have selected a new chancellor: Allison Garrett. [NonDoc]
  • A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows COVID-19 cases in children rose faster in counties that did not require masks in schools. [The Washington Post]
  • Oklahoma should spend American Rescue Plan dollars to upgrade the state’s education data system, says state superintendent. [KOSU]
  • For-profit virtual charter schools are trying to sell parents on a high-quality education, but the schools’ track record is mediocre. [The Hechinger Report]

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