(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The number of students in the St. Joseph School District scoring at or above grade level in reading and math declined in the spring according to state test results released this week.
At that point students had faced a grueling year of pandemic learning and it's impact showed.
Parents, teachers, and students got their first real look at Missouri's 2020-2021 testing results Thursday morning.
The district's scores show the pandemic clearly had an impact on learning across grade levels and subjects.
"It's good for us to see what do we need to do to stem any learning loss that they've had as a result of the rolling closures, quarantines, attendance, any impacts of COVID,” Dr. Marlie Williams, Assistant Superintendent of Academic and Education Services said.
Education officials at the state and local level warn that because of the unprecedented circumstances of the last 18 months, these scores shouldn't be used for year-to-year comparisons.
"It's good for us to have to make plans internally just to see where our kids are in terms of learning in math, and reading and science, at the high school level in social studies,” Williams said.
But it's hard not to when the number of St. Joseph students scoring at or above grade level in reading and math declined in spring 2021
"We knew that math would be a challenge really at the national level and that is what we saw. We saw an increase in only one of the grade levels there,” Williams said.
Williams steers the St. Joseph School District's curriculum and says because they knew this result was likely the district made changes this year.
"We had gone through a math curriculum revision already and that this is the first implementation for that,” Williams said.
However, it's not all bad, the number of fifth graders scoring at or above grade level in science went up.
Compared to the state, more St. Joseph high schoolers scored at or above grade level in social studies.
Plus the ACT scores.
"Our percentage of graduates taking the ACT hasn't declined but our ACT composite score has increased and does exceed the state composite score by almost a full point,” Williams said.
Williams says one last thing to note, and possibly the most important, is chronic absenteeism.
"We saw a significant decline in attendance from last year to this year and I think one of the challenges for us with students who have more learning needs is to make sure that they are coming to school regularly because we simply cannot make sure that they are learning all that they need to learn if we don't see them in our classrooms every day,” Williams said.
She adds that when kids are sick, they absolutely should stay home, but when they are not missing school even for an hour or two is a problem.
Last December, Missouri's State Board of Education voted to require state assessments be administered but not factor their results into either state or federal accountability systems.
Despite navigating another year in a pandemic, school officials have been given no indication that results will be waived again.