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MDE: Test scores fall statewide amid pandemic disruptions

Statistics shared by the Mississippi Department of Education reveal that students’ academic performance suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Test scores from the 2020-21 school year provide a first look at the pandemic’s effect on Mississippi students as state testing was shelved at the end of 2019-20 academic calendar due to the emergence of the virus and the closure of schools across the state. 

Data from MDE shows that, for the first time since MAAP tests were first administered in 2016, student proficiency decreased in mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) after reaching an all-time high in 2019. 

Statewide proficiency levels fell in all grades except 8th grade ELA, which increased 0.1% (35.6%) since 2019. The drops occurred as students largely dealt with virtual and hybrid learning as opposed to in-person learning. 

“The disruption and stress caused by COVID-19 has had an impact on student performance in every state in the country and the impact has been more marked in mathematics than in English Language Arts,” Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said “I am proud of the way Mississippi students, families, teachers and school leaders persevered through the most challenging school year of their lives.”

Due to the constant disruptions, education leaders determined that 3rd graders were not required to meet a passing score on the reading assessment to be promoted to 4th grade. Students still had to meet all other district requirements for promotion. Students who took required end-of-course high school assessments including Algebra I, English II, Biology and U.S. History were not required to meet a passing score.

The MDE did highlight the fact that the Ocean Springs School District improved its districtwide ELA proficiency level since 2019.

Overall, Dr. Wright praised the progress Mississippi students have made in years past and expressed optimism that things will quickly get back on track. 

“This year establishes a new baseline for statewide assessments,” Wright said. “As the world moves to recover from the pandemic, I am confident Mississippi students will progress just as rapidly as they did before.”

Click here for the full 2020-21 District and school-level assessment results.

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