Student Test Results Down Over COVID

by | Oct 28, 2021

Photo credit: Ray Johnson

SAT English scores one bright spot

The R.I. Department of Education released RICAS results for the 2020-21 school year and they were down everywhere in the state, including in East Greenwich. The RICAS (RI Comprehensive Assessment System) has been in place since the 2017-18 school year. The expectation, said EG Supt. Alexis Meyer Thursday, was that by year three, we would have a good picture of where students stood. 

Except, COVID happened. So year three of the RICAS didn’t happen.

The RICAS resumed last spring, a year after the arrival of COVID ushered in distance learning and lots more screen time than students were used to. Both in-person and distance-learning students took the assessments in school. In East Greenwich, results in English Language Arts (ELA) were down 5 percent; math scores dropped by 10 percent. 

Overall, ELA scores were down from 2018-19 (64.2 percent) but were better in 2020-21 (58.9 percent) than they were in 2017-18 (56.2 percent). 

Math scores overall – which had shown a small improvement between 2017-18 (53.4 percent) and 2018-19 (54.1 percent) – took a nose dive in 2020-21, to 43.9 percent.

The one area where student scores improved was the ELA SAT scores, which had been 85.4 and 84.6 in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively, but jumped to 92.2 percent in 2020-21 – a reason for celebration, said Meyer.

Math SAT scores, alternatively, soured from 76 and 75.9 percent in 2017-18 and 2018-19 to 66.8 percent last year. 

“This tells us part of the story of COVID,” said Meyer. “I would say they are not unexpected. No doubt, in- person learning matters. These were not typical school years…. We have work to do.”

One anomaly in the results is a continued disparity between Hanaford and Eldredge students, – both schools teach students in grades 3-5. ELA scores for the two schools differ by around 5 percent in both 2018-19 and 2020-21 (Eldredge with the higher scores) with little change in the scores. Math, however, showed starker differences, with Eldredge at 64.8 percent and Hanaford at 54.5 percent in 2018-19. The gap persisted in 2020-21 but with both schools dropping 10+ percentage points.

Meyer said she did not have an explanation for such differences at this point.

Scores for students at Cole Middle School dropped 10 percent in both ELA and math. 

“We’re beginning to have conversations around what if any additional academic programs might we need to support our students,” said Meyer, mentioning something like “high-dosage tutoring.”

She also noted the RICAS was only one assessment tool of many.

These district profile pages come from the larger RICAS document, pages 77 and 78:

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