Utah State Board of Education publishes Annual Report – The Daily Universe – Universe.byu.edu | Team Cansler

Compared to 2021 results, students perform better on tests measuring English language skills, math and science, achievement, growth, English learner progression and post-secondary readiness. While test scores have improved over the past year, they have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. (Megan Brugger)

The Utah State Board of Education released its annual report card for statewide schools, showing academic progress and regression for 2021-2022.

The Utah School Report Card, required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, showed lower scores than before the pandemic. But Utah State Board of Education accountability specialist Ann-Michelle Neal cautioned against making accurate pre-pandemic and post-pandemic school comparisons because lawmakers changed school grade metrics just before the pandemic.

It’s “like comparing apples to oranges,” Neal said.

Each spring, students from almost every grade level in Utah are tested in English language arts, math and science to show how schools, districts and the state as a whole are performing in terms of classroom skills, overall student learning and standards of the Cut off the state of Utah. Students are measured on achievement, growth, English learning progression, and post-secondary readiness, as well as consistent attendance and post-secondary enrollment.

The Utah State Board of Education places a strong emphasis on equal opportunity and college and career readiness, as well as the lowest-performing students. Student test scores are rising as of 2021 but have not yet fully recovered from the impact of the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of the Utah School Board of Education)

The national report shows increases and decreases ranging from +1% to -3%, and changes within these ranges are relatively small. Neal suggests these numbers are indicators of stabilization in test scores and should be seen as a positive step in post-pandemic academic recovery.

“It is important to pay attention to the fact that the pandemic has impacted not only student learning but all aspects of children’s lives. While academics are important, it’s also important to address the other types of social, emotional, and physical losses that students have experienced,” Neal said.

Of the 98.2% of participants at 1,084 Utah schools, there was a 44.3% decline in performance in English Language Arts scores, a 32.5% improvement in math grades, and a 34.1% decline in performance the science scores of students demonstrating grade level proficiency. Level standards in each subject compared to 2021 results.

Though performance metrics are important, Neal said, she suggested they show “a snapshot of a point in time.”

According to Neal, it’s more important to look at student growth because growth shows student performance over time. The current results of the students can be compared to those at the beginning and signal that teachers and students are moving in the right direction.

Students improved by 60.5% in Arts of English, 59.6% in Mathematics and 60.4% in Science, making an ‘average’ overall. Improvement is measured as high, average, or low.

“A key message for parents is to ask how their son or daughter is doing. Ask how well their school is doing…share your concerns and ask what you can do to help,” Neal said.

Students learning English were measured on their progress in listening, reading, speaking and writing in English. 36.2% of students made reasonable progress, neither improving nor decreasing from 2021 results. 2.9% of students achieved the proficiency level, a 0.1% increase from 2021 results.

It also measured high school students’ post-secondary readiness, examining how well prepared students are for the transition from high school to college and employment after graduation. Post-secondary readiness means students achieve an ACT composite score of 18 or higher, graduate on time with a high school diploma, and successfully complete college or career preparation courses.

62.5% of students met ACT requirements, a 0.4% increase over 2021. 88.1% of students completed the degree requirements, down 0.1% from 2021. 81.1% of students completed the college or professional preparation courses, an increase of 1.5% from 2021.

Students were also measured against predictors of academic outcomes and academic success, looking at consistent attendance and enrollment in secondary school. Continued attendance is defined by the Utah State Board of Education as “the percentage of students who miss less than ten days of school during the school year that is related to multiple positive student outcomes.”

For high schools, according to the board, post-secondary enrollment is “the percentage of students who enroll in a college in the state of Utah in the year following graduation.” 75.5% of students met the attendance goal, a decrease of 7% from 2021. No statistics on post-secondary enrollment were shown.

According to the Utah State Board of Education, report cards are intended to inform parents, educators, and community stakeholders of student progress while working together to achieve student success. The Utah State Board of Education said of the Utah School Report Cards, “All students can grow and all schools can improve.”

“While no school report card tells the whole story of a child, no school report card tells the whole story of a school. Education is far more than a single score or grade, but it’s important that families and communities can see both strengths and areas that need support and improvement,” the Utah State Board of Education said of the Utah School Report Cards.

The Utah State Board of Education has endeavored to produce a parent-friendly and transparent report.

“Parents are such a crucial part of their children’s success, and transparency with parents and communities is a high priority,” Neal said.

According to 2021-2022 Student Participation and Achievement Results, Utah schools are beginning to reach pre-pandemic levels, but are not there yet. However, recovery is not a quick process. Neal says full recovery hasn’t happened in Utah schools this year, and she doesn’t know when it will.

“No one can say when things will return to normal or if normality should be the expectation,” Neal said.

Neal went on to explain that students and teachers are facing a challenging time and must make great efforts to make small gains.

“We often refer to the pandemic as analogous to headwinds… You have to expend more energy to travel less distance. This is very similar to what students and teachers are experiencing now,” Neal said.

BYU elementary school teacher Hallie Blodgett said the pandemic has forced educators to focus on this learning environment for their students.

“I work with young children and the very basic social skills that I have taken for granted struggle with these children… Understanding the students who come into your classroom and their surroundings will impact a teacher’s approach to learning “, she said.

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