Colorado students have experienced "significant decreases in achievement" between 2019 and 2021, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) said on Thursday.
Students scored lower "across all tested grades and subject areas" in the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments, which the agency administered to students last spring.
“We recognize how hard students and teachers worked through the difficulties during last school year, and we know that there were reduced or disrupted learning opportunities for students, schools and districts,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a statement. “These test results give us sobering data that confirm just how hard last year was with school closures, class quarantines and remote learning.
Anthes added that "it is extremely clear that we must accelerate learning more than what we have done historically."
According to the results, both the fourth grade and eighth grade math test takers showed a nearly 7% drop in the number of students who met or exceeded the CMAS standard. For comparison, the sixth grade math test takers showed a 5% learning loss. The third, fifth, and seventh grade English test takers all showed less learning loss, averaging nearly 2% declines.
According to the data, Black and Hispanic students tended to be more impacted across all grades than students from other races.
While the agency admitted that fewer students took the assessments last year than in previous years, “CMAS, PSAT and SAT were the only common measurements of students’ learning across Colorado,” CDE said.
Overall, participation for both tests was up to 30% from previous years in some cases, CDE said. The agency added that the various learning settings – remote, in-person, or hybrid – that students utilized last year also contributed to the decrease in participation.
Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, took issue with the “un-scientific” way the tests were administered last year.
“Any conclusion that we reach from the test data, whether positive or negative, is hopelessly misguided,” she said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent data, the bottom line is that we intend to continue working to support our schools and to provide our students with the resources they need to get the education they deserve.”
Colorado recently released updated guidance to help schools return to in-person learning across the state. It recommends school districts take a “layered approach,” meaning that schools in higher-risk areas should enforce stricter COVID-19 policies than schools in lower-risk areas.
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Original Author: Robert Davis, The Center Square contributor