JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Preliminary test scores show Missouri students are still not performing as well in school as they were before the pandemic.
It’s no surprise that the pandemic affected students’ learning. Initial 2022 standardized test scores show that while there was an increase in math and science, there was a decline in English language arts.
“Many of our teachers and school leaders shared with us that last year was still a very challenging year in many ways,” said Margie Vandeven, commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). “We still had a number of students who missed school for various reasons throughout the year, we had a number of substitute teachers filling spaces for our teachers.”
The preliminary test scores show that 39% of students are proficient in math, which is up four percent from 2021. “Proficient” means meeting expectations for moving on to the next grade level. There was a small increase in science in 2022 at 38% compared to 2021 when the rate was 37%. There was a decrease in English, down to 43%. That’s a difference of a two-percentage-point drop from 2021 and six from 2019.
“A lot of people question, ‘Why do you give standardized tests?”‘ Vandeven said. “Well, for a number of different reasons and I think coming out of a pandemic is really important time to do things like monitor where students are across the board.”
When schools in Missouri closed in the spring of 2020, standardized testing didn’t happen. Some schools reopened their doors for in-person learning in the fall of 2020 while others stayed virtual or offered hybrid learning. In 2021, 90% of students in Missouri’s K-12 public schools participated in the test. This past school year, even more, participated.
Test score data remained constant in ethnic groups from previous years. Asian students performed with a proficiency rate of 57% while Black students performed at a 17% proficiency rate. Preliminary results also showed that younger students have felt the effects of the pandemic.
“Remember that some of these students hadn’t been in a school environment,” Vandeven said. “I think we need to look at the academic performance and also the classroom environment again for these students.”
When asked if she thinks students will rebound to test scores before the pandemic, Vandeven said absolutely.
“There is no doubt about it,” Vandeven said. “We’ll get back to where we were and quite frankly, we need to get beyond where we were. The pandemic has really set us up to think about education differently.”
What does Vandeven think about Missouri compared to other states?
“Overall, I would say Missouri faired probably pretty well in comparison to national, but that’s yet to be determined,” Vandeven said. “What Missouri has seen is that keeping our doors open in most cases paid off for us.”
Test scores will be finalized in December. Vandeven recommends that parents ask their school district for their child’s individual report to see their student’s strengths and weaknesses.