Education test scores improve but still lag behind pre-pandemic levels

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Jul. 18—CONCORD — Education test scores in New Hampshire improved slightly after a two-year slump linked to the pandemic, state officials reported Monday.

However, the average reading and math scores for high school students taking the SAT test in the state dropped compared to 2021 and 2019.

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said full recovery from the academic disruptions and negative impacts of remote learning all students experienced during COVID-19 will take some time.

"Assessment scores are inching upward and returning to near pre-pandemic levels, but it is clear that there is still work to be done to recover from the academic declines that resulted from COVID-19," Edelblut said.

"New Hampshire has not fully regained ground, but these early signs of improvement are promising," he said.

In 2021, the New Hampshire Statewide Assessment performance levels slumped from third through eighth grades in both English and math, officials said.

This year, the students improved their scores in third through seventh grades, while the eighth-grade math score remained the same.

The percentage of students who reached proficient or acceptable levels also grew, with 51% of third graders proficient in math, compared to 45% last year.

Fourth-graders showed similar improvement, with math scores in 2022 at 48%, up from 41% the year before.

English test scores were steady for grades three through five and inched up for grade six to 53% proficient, up from 50% in 2021.

In the older grades, English proficiency declined, with 49% of seventh graders proficient this past year, down from 52% in 2021.

Lower than pre-pandemic

Before the pandemic, proficiency rates were higher in every grade than now.

For example, seventh-grade English proficiency in 2022 was 49%, down from 60% in 2018, and and fifth-grade math proficiency of 39% compared to 45% back in 2018.

Edelblut said the College Board reported that states using the SAT saw a decline of 7 points in reading and writing and 18 points in math from 2019 to 2022.

In New Hampshire, the decline was less, 4 points in reading and 16 points in math.

In 2022, New Hampshire's average reading score on the SAT was 511, compared to 517 in 2021 and 515 in 2019. The average math score for 2022 was 492, compared to 509 in 2021 and 508 in 2019.

"We know that these students, who will be starting their senior year in a few weeks, have had a high school career filled with disruptions, remote classes and missed learning. We also know that SAT participation dropped in New Hampshire to about 82% in 2022," Edelblut said. "While many states have seen an overall decline in SAT test scores, New Hampshire scores continue to remain comparatively high."

In 2019, 90% of high school students in the state took the SAT.

Individual school and district data for both the assessment tests and the SATs will be released in the fall, state officials said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com