Aug 8, 2022 - News

Arizona students fell behind in math and English during pandemic

Arizona student proficiency in mathematics and English language arts, by grade
Data: Helios Education Foundation; Note: 9th graders do not take the AzM2 exam; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Student proficiency in math and English language arts decreased across grade levels during the pandemic. That's based on a new report from the Helios Education Foundation, the Arizona State Board of Education and the Arizona Department of Education.

Why it matters: The pandemic has disrupted three school years, and educators are worried that students won't be able to recover from the learning loss, especially in younger grades, where literacy learning is critical.

Details: The report compares the percentage of students in each grade who tested proficient in each subject during the 2019 school year versus 2021.

  • The most significant drop was in math proficiency, which is down 11% across all grade levels.

Threat level: Black, Latino and Native American students and students from low-income families have faced even more significant learning loss during the pandemic.

What they're saying: "Every student was impacted by this pandemic just like the pandemic impacted every community, But some weathered the storm better than others because of the resources and support available to them," Superintendent Kathy Hoffman says.

What they're doing: The state's education department has created a $14 million fund for teachers across the state to access $1,000 grants for them to help their students learn.

  • Hoffman said teachers have used the money to purchase scientific calculators and reading comprehension tools.
  • The department has also provided $10 million to ASU Prep Digital to help fill math teacher staffing gaps and provide supplemental math curriculum to speed up student progress.

The big picture: Hoffman and Roosevelt School District Superintendent Quintin Boyce said issues that burden working class families — like lack of affordable housing, food insecurity and inadequate health care — directly impact student success and also need to be addressed.

  • "It's really hard to be your best academic self when your basic human needs are not being met," Boyce said.
  • About 90% of students in the Roosevelt District qualify for free or reduced lunch.
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