Still worse than before the pandemic

Pennsylvania students continue to perform worse than they did before the pandemic on standardized tests, according to data released Monday.

The 2022 Pennsylvania System of State Assessments scores, which are administered to students in grades three through eight and known as PSSAs, slipped further in English for grades three through sixth. While seventh and eighth graders’ English scores in 2022 saw an increase, as did math scores at most grade levels, the scores still lagged behind those of 2019, the last test administered before the pandemic.

“Like states across the country, we are not yet seeing test results at pre-pandemic levels. However, student performance is generally improving each year, and schools across Pennsylvania are working overtime to accelerate learning and meet students where they are when we emerge from the pandemic,” Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty said in an explanation.

The results provide the latest picture of the academic fallout from the disruption caused by the pandemic, following the release of national standardized test scores last month that showed a sharp decline in student performance since 2019. Pennsylvania and New Jersey students saw slightly above-average declines on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam, which is administered between January and March 2022.

In the PSSAs conducted in the 2021-22 school year this spring, English language arts scores fell across several grades and declined lower compared to pre-pandemic scores. Among the third graders, 52.3% achieved the grade “competent”. or above, up from 61.9% in 2019; fourth graders, 52.2%, down from 63.6%; fifth graders, 53.6%, down from 58.5%; and sixth graders, 56.1%, down from 63%.

While this year’s ELA scores among seventh and eighth graders have been up since 2021, scores were still down compared to pre-pandemic levels: 57.2% for seventh graders in 2022 compared to 60.4% in 2019 and 55.6% for eighth graders compared to 57.9%.

So did PSSA math scores, which, with the exception of fifth grade, consistently increased from 2021 but did not reach 2019 levels. (For third graders, for example, math scores increased from 47.3% in 2021 to 47.7% in 2022, but were down from 2019’s 56%.)

Jonathan Supovitz, a professor of leadership and politics at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, said he wasn’t surprised by the continuation of the lower scores. He noted that a current fifth grader, for example, may have had several years of “very thin schooling.”

“Education is a cumulative experience,” he said. “Just because I covered the year doesn’t mean I have the foundation that I would have had in previous years.”

Hagerty said the assessments “show point in time data that does not reflect the full extent of learning taking place in classrooms across the Commonwealth, and we expect student achievement to continue to improve as students and educators proceed with a more normalized, uninterrupted year in person.” To learn.”

The results were expected to mark a more typical return to standardized testing in the wake of the pandemic. The tests were canceled in 2020, and although they returned in 2021, significantly fewer students than usual took part: Pennsylvania had allowed school districts to postpone assessments, but some continued to hold them in spring 2021, when many students were still learning remotely.

Because of this, Pennsylvania officials had downplayed the drops in 2021, calling the results an incomplete picture.

Education Ministry officials did not comment on this year’s participation rates Monday. About 700,000 students took the English and math PSSAs in 2022, according to the department’s website, up from just 540,000 in 2021. The number was lower than the roughly 748,000 who took the tests in 2019, but Supovitz called it a “stabilizing one.” Sample”.

The pool of test-takers for the Keystone exam was also smaller this year than in 2019. The literature and biology scores on the exams reported for Grade 11 were both down, albeit the largest, from before the pandemic , in biology – from 63.2% of the masters in 2019 to 41.9% in 2022 – reflecting 55,000 fewer tests. (The Keystone exams are administered at the end of a course, but are only reported if the test-taker is in 11th grade. This means that a test taken in one year may not be considered until subsequent years. Last year , when there were also drop-ins in the number of Keystone results, officials pointed to the cancellation of tests in 2020 as a factor.)

Algebra Keystone scores increased from 63.3% to 63.9% since 2019. But compared to 2019, only half as many test results – 59,000 – were released on Monday.