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District-level school test results released

Thursday, Dec 2, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* In my own opinion, the claim about “impact on academic achievement” is only true if you think the pre-pandemic testing program is relevant in or applicable to a very changed world during a pandemic this past spring

Illinois families from low-income communities and those living in some of the wealthiest enclaves in the state found common ground this week, with school district results from the state’s 2021 student assessments showing declines in academic proficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic across all demographics.

The data from roughly 90% of Illinois school districts that delivered the mandated Illinois Assessment of Readiness to students in spring in third through eighth grades and the SAT to high school juniors were unveiled this week, revealing a stark yet not unexpected snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on academic achievement. […]

At Crow Island School in Winnetka — a North Shore village that is among the most affluent communities in Illinois — 55% of third graders met or exceeded state proficiency standards on the IAR English language arts assessment.

In 2019, districtwide about 72% of students met or exceeded English language arts proficiency standards, according to the ISBE website.

More here.

Your own thoughts?


  1. - Wow - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 3:04 pm:

    Zoom school is a failure

  2. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 3:09 pm:

    =Zoom school is a failure=

    Spoken like someone that has no clue.

    Schools are back to in-person learning this year.

    If there was no “zoom school” the results would have been dramatically worse.

    I think the results are relevant when you compare cohorts year over year. You cannot do that with 3rd and 4th grade tests but you can do that with older students. You can also look at SAT vs SAT 8 if the school gace the SAT 8.

    There is value in comparing, but it isn’t the be all end all of a students academic life.

  3. - Bears Grief - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 3:12 pm:

    “the claim about “impact on academic achievement” is only true if you think the pre-pandemic testing program is relevant in or applicable to a very changed world during a pandemic this past spring…”

    As a father of kids in elementary school, the anecdotal evidence is real. They lost a lotta ground.

  4. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 3:21 pm:

    The problem was not the 2020-2021 school year for those third graders, which was well structured and covered the materials.

    The problem was the end of the 2019-2020 school year, when schools were shut down from March - June, and kids not only got very little meaningful instruction, you had almost a seven-month gap in learning loss.

    When kids came back in the fall of 2020, there was no effort to go back and cover what should have been learned in Second Grade, which was substantial, and so there were huge holes in their knowledge that went undetected.

    I think districts are realizing this now and going back to reassess younger learners to see what they missed in 2020.

  5. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 3:30 pm:

    =When kids came back in the fall of 2020, there was no effort to go back and cover what should have been learned in Second Grade, which was substantial, and so there were huge holes in their knowledge that went undetected.=

    @Thomas Paine-

    With respect, that may be true for your children’s school district but it is not true for all. We assessed students at the beginning of 2020/2021 to determine where they were and then used our MTSS program for remediation. Nothing happens overnight, but our assessment data provided evidence of growth not remission.

    With respect.

  6. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 3:55 pm:

    Covid Zoom School was not great but it was pretty clearly the lack of social interaction that seems to have been the biggest source of declines. Saw the exact same thing in my house. The good news is that kids are very resilient and I expect these deficits to disappear over time.

  7. - Fav Human - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:03 pm:

    Every parent I have spoken with, every student from high school and college says the same.

    The felt like they didn’t learn a thing.

    I am SO THANKFUL that my youngest graduated 2019…

  8. - Demoralized - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:03 pm:

    ==Zoom school is a failure==

    Contrary to what JS Mill says, zoom school was indeed a failure, at least for my 3 kids. My A/B middle child failed 3 classes last year. This year he’s back in school and getting A’s and B’s again.

    I know you’re sensitive JS Mill about critiques of the school system but this parent thinks schools - while they did the best they could - failed some children last year, mine included.

  9. - Demoralized - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:05 pm:

    I’ve never been a fan of standardized testing to begin with because I’m not sure they measure anything useful other than how well one can take a test.

  10. - Mason born - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:13 pm:

    My 2 cents is the effectiveness of online school had a lot to do with the individual student. I have 2 sons one did his work On his own and was essentially done an hour earlier then usual. My other son couldn’t pick up the lessons and was perpetually distracted he’s playing catch up this year. Both are straight a students. I think some kids need the more structured classroom setting then others, those kids probably slipped some. I think it’s also important to remember that we didn’t do zoom school as a fun science experiment but as the least bad option for Covid. Again just my 2c.

  11. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:13 pm:

    The issue isn’t if dial up school was unsuccessful ( it was). We, the education community, knew it would be. The issue is how do we come back? Schools that provide more external structure for children will be more successful than those that focus on SEL. We’ll see results in testing this year.

  12. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:21 pm:

    = Zoom school is a failure =

    If you only measure success through tired testing protocols and academic achievement, yes, it failed.

    If you consider the impact sending kids to in-person classrooms mid-pandemic and force the ones who suffer long-term COVID to just deal with it when they struggle long after the pandemic, then no way.

    Lost in all of this did it work / did it not work is the realization that child homelessness and safe environments are very real, very abundant public health issues.

    But, yeah, let’s squabble about lines on a graph.

  13. - Grimlock - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:26 pm:

    I had a son in 8th grade last year and a daughter in 1st grade. Most of my son’s teachers gave very little work to do, my son often finished his “school day” hours before my daughter. He would often finish everything by 10 or 10:30 each day, my daughter usually worked until 12:30 or 1:00. If my son’s scores are lower, it isn’t Zoom’s fault, it’s his teachers last year.

  14. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:31 pm:

    I’m actually surprised by the test results of the more well off families. I know a couple engineers that have school aged children and in their case they massively supplemented the school’s offering. Result, those students have been bored silly as the teachers have been reviewing what the rest of the class did not learn but they did. Why not just move the students who did manage to learn ahead or put them in accelerated classes or something? Then the teachers could concentrate on the students who did not master the material (many for perfectly valid reasons.)

    Differentiated instruction also seems to be a bust, not just zoom school.

  15. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:32 pm:

    =The felt like they didn’t learn a thing.=

    Something I share with parents from time to time- We will believe 50% of what your kids tell us about home if you will believe 50% of what they tell you about us.

    I used to ask my own kids what they learned in school that day, from the time they started kindergarten. When they were little they would give me chapter and verse. By the time they got to middle school the standard response was “nothing”. Pre-covid.

    But if we are going on “feelings” I guess that is an absolute truth.

    =I’ve never been a fan of standardized testing to begin with because I’m not sure they measure anything useful other than how well one can take a test.=

    Respectfully, they do provide more value than test taking ability. And not all standardized tests are equal not are their scores pegged to the same things.

    SAT and ACT (with SAT being the toughest) are the top tier of standardized test and can accurately predict a students ability to succeed in college.

    Illinois should have adopted the battery of lower level assessment created by one of these two companies. And yes, I know, every student isn’t going to college or should go to college. But having one standard to assess students by creates a common and consistent understanding of where kids are at.

    Our lower tier tests like the IAR (no) ISAT, and IGAP and not as rigorous relative to the grade level and typically provide an overly optimistic score. When the ISAT as used 3-8, the Illinois score for “meets” as pegged at. the 38th national percentile while the PSAE (ACT/Workkeys combo) was pegged at the 68th national percentile. this made it look like high schools were failing when there was no legit reason for the different standards.

    Educators are probably at fault for deemphasizing the values of these assessment because they struggle to align instruction to the standards (assessed by tests) successfully.

    There are other measures of student growth and learning, NCLB over emphasized obe assessment, standardized tests do have value if you know how to read them correctly.


  16. - Diogenes in DuPage - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:36 pm:

    As some one who worked in public education for 40 years, and who now worries more about his grandkids, I wonder if the year of schooling impacted so profoundly by the Covid pandemic will result in these short term (?) trends: 1) return to a focus on the emotional well being of the child rather than concern primarily for their test scores, 2) loss of talented school leaders so besieged by parents angry at closed school sites, masking, vaccine requirements, etc., 3) trouble recruiting teachers due to behavior of the public towards educators over the past two years and subsequent “lack of joy in teaching”due to the current climate, and 4) difficulty recruiting school support staff — aides, bus drivers, etc. — due to private sector pay scales boosted by the pandemic aftermath. It could be the late 1960s all over again?

  17. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:37 pm:

    @JS Mill -

    Which school district?

  18. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 4:54 pm:

    I would like to see the IEP-student declines teased out a lot more, and suspect they are greater than reported, as I know a bunch of IEP students who were not assessed at all during Covid, and a WHOLE bunch who simply didn’t receive services. Which, I get it, a lot of students, especially with more intense needs, simply could not receive their legally-mandated therapies and supports over Zoom. Schools had limited funding, the pandemic was really uncertain, medically-fragile children at higher risk. But this means that a lot of children with IEPs went as many as 18-20 months without receiving therapy or supports they were legally entitled to.

    I think those particularly subgroup declines are underreported either because children weren’t tested or because children were simply lost from the system — I know SO many children with IEPs who were unenrolled by parents who were incredibly frustrated being expected to provide all the supports for their kids at home and do a lot of reporting, homework, etc., and were being penalized by schools who “had to keep grading them.”

    The damage the pandemic has done to children with IEPs has been largely ignored and it is significant.

  19. - Arsenal - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 5:01 pm:

    I agree with Rich, and I would add that even if you accept that there was “learning loss”, remote education was an emergency measure to save children’s lives. No one was kidding themselves that it would push our kids forward without a hitch, like nothing ever happened. Something happened. Something that cost us over half a million lives (and counting) in this country alone.

  20. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 5:17 pm:

    =@JS Mill -

    Which school district?=

    The one that I work for. Not going to name it for the same reason I use a moniker.

    =remote education was an emergency measure to save children’s lives.=

    This all day.

    =Differentiated instruction also seems to be a bust=

    All research and evidence to the contrary. Just because you went to school does not mean you are expert in teaching and learning.

    =The damage the pandemic has done to children with IEPs has been largely ignored and it is significant.=

    I don’t disagree with the main point of your post or much pof what you stated, but Many district I interact with have been racking their brains on how to remediate the needs of special needs students, many of whom did not get services especially during the initial shut down.We will see a lot more research on this soon.

  21. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 5:28 pm:

    ===Many district I interact with have been racking their brains on how to remediate the needs of special needs students, many of whom did not get services especially during the initial shut down.===

    Oh, yeah, totally; I should have been more clear. I meant ignored by the media, and by parents of children who do NOT have IEPs, and often by state lawmakers. Been very frustrating for a lot of parents of children with IEPs to watch other parents band together and advocate for “all the children in the district” in ways that leave children with IEPs behind and ignore their needs, in favor of getting typically-developing kids “back to normal” at the expense of children with IEPs.

    (The most vivid demonstration of this is of course parents refusing to abide by mask mandates, which functionally excludes a lot of medically-fragile children from school. But we watched a lot of parents in a lot of districts during the pandemic demand kids go back in person in ways that shifted teachers and physical classroom space away from students with IEPs to make smaller, more socially-distanced classes, and would have kept — and in some cases did keep — students with IEPs excluded from in-person learning longer than their peers were, simply because their needs are higher.)

    Of course the MOST frustrating part is watching proudly “pro-life” politicians actively advocate for policies that will kill my disabled child, but at this point it’s an absolute truism that any politician who crows about being pro-life would prefer my child be denied education, denied medical care, denied non-medical therapies, and excluded from society, and for me to stop being such a snowflake about it. So I’m not surprised by that part; parents with disabled children know that pro-life politicians aren’t our allies once our children are born.

  22. - Ok - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 5:44 pm:

    The learning is not lost. It is just delayed.

  23. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 7:22 pm:

    I know ancedotes aren’t data but …

    First, the local school district reports are a whole lot of nothing … probably because the actual scores don’t look that good.

    Second, the grandkids did their Zoom lessons, and that actually went well WHEN the school district supplied equipment worked. But they broke often enough that it was a nuisance. The school district had problems recognizing when they had to switch in mid-day because a tablet died, and sign in on their personal tablets. There were problems recognizing them in attendance … even though they were participating.

    That said, they still did pretty good at learning … which I have to credit to some really good teachers. This year they are in 7th & 5th, so it was 6th & 4th last year.

    I suspect how well the Zoom classes worked overall was a combination of the kids’ ages, the available internet infrastructure in the neighborhood (pretty decent) and decent school equipment, plus the teacher’s ability to adapt. I do know they both opted (with their parent’s blessing) to go back to in person learning as soon as they could … mostly, I suspect, for the social interaction even though they did keep in touch with some classmates over the internet, and even in person where they lived in the same neighborhood.

    Maybe the results would have been different if the ages were different, or different teachers. But the grandkids are comfortable with technology. Quite frankly, the kids are better at using the technology than the adults are.

  24. - Eastern Bloc Mitigation - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 7:53 pm:

    Of course educational proficiency suffered during the pandemic. That was to be expected, and it couldn’t be helped.

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