Test scores show Utah schools are still reeling from COVID
Utah school kids are still getting lower test scores than they did before the pandemic, national testing data released Monday shows.
- But they're not as far behind as their peers nationwide.
Driving the news: Utah's 4th and 8th graders' math and reading scores dropped from 2019 to 2022, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
- But students nationally saw similar, if not worse, declines. National scores were lower than Utah's averages, both in 2019 and now.
What they're saying: "Utah students demonstrated remarkable resiliency during the pandemic relative to other students in the nation," state Superintendent Sydnee Dickson said in a prepared statement. "However, aspects of learning, like many other aspects of our lives, were negatively impacted."
By the numbers: Utah kids' proficiency levels dropped for both subjects and in both grades.
- The sharpest decline was in 4th-grade math, with 42% of Utah students testing as "proficient" this year, down from 47% in 2019.
- 8th-grade reading showed the smallest decline in proficiency, from 37% to 36%.
The intrigue: Utah 4th graders' scores declined more sharply than 8th graders' did in both subjects.
- The opposite was true nationally, with average 8th-grade math scores almost as low as they were 20 years ago.
- Utah schools and schools on military bases were the only public schools that didn't show a statistically significant drop in 8th-grade math scores.
Of note: Utah 8th graders are further ahead of national norms than 4th graders are.
- In math, 70% of Utah's 8th graders demonstrated "basic" skills — 9% above the national rate of 61%.
- By comparison, Utah 4th graders were just 5% ahead of national rates of scores showing basic skills.
Zoom out: Math scores dropped more sharply during the pandemic than reading scores did in both age groups — statewide and nationally.
- But math scores also made bigger gains than reading scores did during the 20 years leading up to COVID.
- That suggests teaching techniques have improved — but may have relied more on in-person, classroom contact.
The latest: Utah received about $900 million in federal emergency COVID funding for schools.
- Some of that has been going toward counselors, wellness rooms and after-school and summer learning programs to help make up losses during the pandemic, the state school board wrote in a news statement.
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