Coronavirus disruptions blamed for lower student test scores

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 27, 2021

ST. PAUL — School disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic resulted in significant drops in math and reading test scores for Minnesota students, according to state education officials.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments results released Friday show proficiency rates fell 11 percentage points to 44% in math and 7 points to 53% in reading, since 2019.

“The statewide assessment results confirm what we already knew — that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our students’ learning and they need our help to recover,” Education Commissioner Heather Mueller said.

The Trump administration let states cancel their spring 2020 tests as the pandemic began to take hold and schools transitioned to distance learning. This year, Minnesota largely tried to administer its tests as usual even though some school districts and states got partial waivers from the Biden administration.

About 77 percent of eligible Minnesota students completed their tests. That’s down from the usual 98 percent.

Stacey Gray Akyea, research director for St. Paul Public Schools, said the district’s low test participation rates cast doubt on how much they can learn from the data, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

“We’re still doing some of those analyses to see if we can generalize across student groups,” she said.

Nonetheless, the district will be taking a close look at the results to understand “where students are now as we come into the fall,” she said, and “how far are they from where they normally would have been.”