Alabama Sees Drop in Standardized Testing Scores Following School Year in the Pandemic

Last week, the Alabama Department of Education informed school board members on the results from standardized tests students took last spring, and Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said the test showed a drop in proficiency, most dramatically in math.

“When it comes down to it, there’s just nothing that can replace a teacher working with children,” Mackey said.

More than 40% of eighth-grade students were considered proficient in math in 2018-2019 tests. That number fell to 14% last year.

Amy Harrison Director of Professional Learning and Testing with Elmore County Schools blames the low scores on constant adjustments students and teachers had to make throughout the year.

“The results should not adversely reflect on our teachers and our schools because they work extremely hard,” Harrison said.

Students also took a new test called the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program.

“There’s COVID, we know that,” Mackey said. “But were there other things that contributed to those scores going down? Yes, we’re using a much harder test because we want to start testing students at a much higher level.”

The state and school systems are implementing plans to recover. However, the Department of Education is worried by increasing COVID cases and the number of adults working around schools who are not vaccinated.

“I cannot caution people enough that being in school and out of school is very disruptive,” Mackey said. “Its going to leave another mark this coming spring if we cant get our hands around this virus and get people back in school.”

Testing scores didn’t just go down in Alabama. There were many states last year that did not even assess students, but Mackey said every single one that did saw a plummet in scores.

The state did see record participation in summer school programs this year. Some families tried to make up for schooling lost during the pandemic. Mackey said Montgomery Public Schools usually has about 2,500 students in summer school. This year, it was 12,000.

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