The results are in: Standardized test scores fell during pandemic year

Standardized test scores in Arizona from the last school year fell, a not-unexpected result that was attributed to “learning disruptions from COVID-19” and a sharp drop in the number of grade school and middle school students who were actually present to take the tests. /File photo by James Anderson/Cronkite News

By Genesis Sandoval | Cronkite News                      

Results released by the department Friday showed that 38% of students got “satisfactory” grades on the language test and 31% passed the math test in 2021, compared to 42% for both tests in 2019, the last year for which test results are available.

The department warned that results from the pandemic year “need to be viewed with extreme caution” when compared to other years.

“When considering the results of students who did take the test, it is important to remember the learning disruptions from COVID-19 that may have impacted student learning in unforeseen ways,” the department said in a note released with the data.

It also pointed out that “a significant number of students did not take the test” last year. Close to 740,000 students took both tests in 2019, but just 520,912 took the math test last school year and 511,679 took the language skills test.

Some schools sticking with mask mandates, despite Ducey funding threat 

The AzM2 test, formerly known as AzMerit, and the Multi-State Alternate Assessment test are given to students in grades three through eight and grade 10. Besides measuring student progress, the AzM2 scores are typically used by the Education Department to assign letter grades to state schools, ranking their performance against others in the state.

But state lawmakers last year suspended the use of the standardized tests for the ranking of schools, while still requiring that the test be administered to students. And Gov. Doug Ducey ordered that the students’ scores still be evaluated to “identify the extent of learning loss” during the pandemic year.

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