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‘Unprecedented’ drops in ND school test scores

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 8:17 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The test results are in: and it says North Dakotas school test scores are dropping, and quickly. The Department of Public Instruction released data for the first time showing the actual impact the disruption of COVID-19 had on students.

Leaders in Education said the effects from COVID will be historic, and will studied for years. But what’s also historic is the decline in test scores based on the yearly State Assessment.

“People’s lives have been disrupted and there’s chaos in our world right now. And when there’s chaos, learning isn’t as easily accomplished,” said State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

DPI’s results put students in one of four categories based on their test results.

The share of students who ranked in the lowest tier in English grew from 26% to 31%.

For math, it was 24% to 28%.

Proficiency overall dropped 5% in English and 7% in Math. Meaning an additional one out of every 20 students is no longer proficient in these topics.

“Because of COVID, we had virtual. Because of COVID, we had kids not coming to school. I kinda clumped it all together, but it’s obviously very closely related that all of these things tie together and it’s because of COVID that we had this big of a drop,” said Rep. David Monson, R-Osnabrock.

However, Baelser said critics shouldn’t point their fingers at distance learning.

“There’s a lot of training, there’s a lot of practice, there’s a lot of preparation that needs to go into that in order to do it well. Setting up curriculum. I’m not so sure it should be an indictment on virtual learning but possibly an indictment in the way we were so quickly and abruptly forced to shift to a virtual environment,” said Baesler.

Moving forward, the pandemic will be considered a baseline when studying education and the effects similarly to a natural disaster.

While the effects are unprecedented, Baesler added that the recovery will also be unprecedented. Many schools have already used a significant portion of federal COVID dollars to bring on additional staff.

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