Utah student test scores decline during COVID-19 pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY – Student education in Utah has suffered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the observation of a report submitted to Utah State Board of Education.

Darin Nielsen, deputy state superintendent for student learning, recently presented the findings to board members.

“It is clear that the disruption caused by the pandemic has affected all of our student groups,” he told FOX 13 in an interview on Zoom. “The big difference with the pandemic is just the scale and scope of its magnitude, because it has affected our entire community. “

The study used test data to assess the position of students almost two years after the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

One example used the reading benchmark for students in Grades 1 to 3.

An assessment carried out in January and February 2020 found that 69% of students in these classes reached the benchmark.

A year later, well before the pandemic, that number fell to 62%.

Math scores also fell sharply for students in Grades 5 to 10.

“It gives you a pretty clear picture of the effects of the spring 2020 shutdown,” Nielsen said.

This study did not find a specific cause for the deficiencies.

When the pandemic began, all schools in the state switched to distance learning.

When the Fall 2020 term began, many students returned to in-person or blended learning and faced disruptions such as quarantines.

“The impacts of the pandemic – we won’t be able to overcome them in a month or two,” Nielsen said. “They will probably last for several years. “

He believes everyone involved in education has a duty to help students catch up during the pandemic.

“The phrase I like to use is to provide academic tailwinds that will allow their pace of learning to increase,” Nielsen said. “Allow them to return to where we expected them to be if the pandemic had never happened. “

The full report is expected to be released early next week and will be presented to the state legislature.

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Norma A. Roth