California Department of Education released new data from schools, showing some students and groups were more impacted than others in terms of graduation and enrollment rates during the pandemic. That same report showing there was a drastic drop in the number of students taking standardized tests.
“But we want to continue to talk about the programs that are going to help our students offset the challenges they’ve experienced during the pandemic,” said Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
During the school year before the pandemic, with over 3.2 million students enrolled across the state, about 3.1 million took standardized tests from grades three through eight and 11. In the 2020-21 school year, with about 3.1 million enrolled less than 750,000 students took standardized tests. That’s about a quarter of students.
With a limited pool of students, data showing students who met the standard dropped slightly but not much there has changed.
The data does show that Kern didn’t perform as well as the state, but the caveat is that only about 20 percent of students locally took the test. School districts locally say they had the option to opt out of standardized testing last year. The Bakersfield City School District tells us that none of their schools conducted the testing last year.
In math, about half of Kern County students tested fell below the standard. A quarter of students nearly met the standard, about 15 percent met the standard, and about 8 percent exceeded standards.
Looking at reading and literacy scores in Kern, in English language arts and literacy, only about 15 percent of students exceeded standards. About a quarter of students met the standard, also a quarter nearly met the standard and about 35 percent fell below. Thurmond said there is a statewide effort to help boost those performances.
“More teacher training and professional development, we’ve announced that part of this campaign, we’re going to get a million books in the hands of students throughout our state. We’ve also announced as part of this effort, the opportunity for families to download books for free. Already we’ve had more than a million books downloaded in the state of California.”
Thurmond said the state is working on introducing programs to help bridge the gaps created by the pandemic. Some of those are transitional kindergarten, after school learning, free school meals for every student, and focusing on mental health.
“We will be pursuing a program that will help us be able to have 10,000 more mental health clinicians in the state of California.”
Thurmond added that with all the challenges schools, students, and staff are facing, resiliency has been the key, and the department is working on make sure no child is left behind.
“These are difficult times that our families are experiencing, we think perhaps right now what we’re experiencing is the most difficult time that most of us will experience in our lifetime, but we believe that we can heal. We believe that we can recover, and we believe that our students can thrive.”