State test scores show declines but not a ‘useful’ measure of student performance during pandemic, says Detroit Lakes director of education

“We’re not going to use them like we usually would,” Renee Kerzman, director of programs, education and technology for Detroit Lakes, said in an interview Wednesday. In fact, she added, the MOE even sent out a warning about using the data for comparison this year.

Besides the significant drop in student participation, Kerzman said, there are other reasons why testing is less useful than normal as a measurement tool.

“Educators and students have experienced significant and profound changes in teaching and learning, as well as in social and emotional well-being,” she said in a report to the Detroit Lakes School Board. at its September 20 meeting.

All district staff and students had to adjust to several “hubs” between in-person, fully-distance, and hybrid learning models during the 2020-21 school year, Kerzman explained during the Wednesday interview.

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“We have tried to do everything we can to ensure that our students are with their teachers, in person, as much as possible,” she said, which has led to more learning model changes. frequent rather than prolonged periods of distance learning.

While district staff went out of their way to ensure that every student had access to the technology necessary for distance learning, their home learning environment was often very different.

“There was no way to measure (or regulate) this,” Kerzman said.

Another factor to take into account is that no ACMs were administered in 2020, which means that the latest comparative data available is from 2019 – before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also, said Kerzman, the actual classroom time spent on testing was condensed, rather than spread over a period of days as had been the case in the past.

“Our teachers had such limited teaching time,” said Kerzman, who they told the district administration, “When we have the kids here (at school), we want to work with them rather than to have them sit there and take some tests. “

This compressed testing period also likely impacted the results, she added.

Numbers

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Tests are based on the Academic standards K-12 for math, reading and science.

Among all students in Detroit Lakes, results from the 2021 MCA show that the number of those who were found to be proficient – that is, meeting or exceeding expectations – in math, reading and science was 44 , 1%, 49.5% and 42.4%, respectively. The 2019 rates were 55.4%, 61.1% and 68.8%.

The decline was most notable among high school students (Grades 6 to 8), whose proficiency levels in math, reading and science in 2021 were 28.8%, 41.8% and 24.2%, respectively, up from 45.8%, 58.8% and 58.3% in 2019. However, Kerzman noted, the number of students who withdrew from the tests was particularly high at the college level, which undoubtedly skewed results, although there is no way to determine whether the numbers would have been better or worse with a higher turnout.

“When a lot of your students are absent (according to the data), it’s hard to draw conclusions,” she said. “We can’t really rely on this test event to tell our data story. “

Some decline in skills was to be expected, Kerzman added, as statewide data also shows a significant decrease. She said individual student results will be sent directly to parents this fall, with many teachers choosing to make them available at parent-teacher conferences, so they can discuss them in person. Complete results for all school districts in Minnesota are available online, in the Minnesota Report Card section of the MDE Data Center at education.mn.gov.

“New enthusiasm” for in-person learning

Kerzman said the atmosphere at all University facilities in Detroit Lakes this fall has been overwhelmingly positive as students and staff are happy to come together for fully in-person learning (no distance learning options are available. offered other than E-Laker Online High School Program This year).

“There is new excitement,” Kerzman said. “We are expecting a very good year.”


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Norma A. Roth