NC student performance dropped in every subject during the pandemic, report shows

Education

A student works on a math book in a school classroom (Nexstar, file)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Student success took a hit during the 2020-2021 school year. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said that’s for one reason: COVID-19.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said in a news release this year’s results could not be compared to previous years because of the interruptions in learning.

“We need to remember these results are only a snapshot of a year marked by extreme anomalies and extenuating circumstances. To treat these scores as though they are valid indicators of future success or performance would not only be an improper use of these data, but also would be a disservice to our students, teachers, and administrators,” Truitt said.

When it comes to reading, the state report showed sixth graders had some of the most dramatic drops in passing rates. For the 2021-2020 school year, just 24 percent of them passed end-of-grade reading exam. Meanwhile, 49 percent passed during the previous school year.

In math, eighth-graders experienced the worst decline with a 19-percent decline in passing rates. Just 17 percent of those students passed during the last school year. In the 2018-2019 school year, 44 percent of students passed.

In science, fifth-graders suffered the most with an almost 20-percent drop in proficiency. While the group had a 62 percent passing rate for the 2018-2019 school year, it dropped to 42 percent for the 2020-2021 school year. Eighth-graders saw the smallest decrease in performance with an 8.6 percent drop in passing rates.

Across the board, just 39 percent of students passed the state’s biology state exam this last year and 35 percent passed the English II exams.

Graduation rates do not appear to have been impacted yet as a result of the tumultuous school year. The graduation rate was 86.9 percent for the class of 2021. That’s only slightly down from 87.6 percent for the class of 2020, the state reported.

Scores on the ACT exam have not been greatly impacted yet either. That score dropped from 55.8 percent in 2018-19 to 55.2 percent in 2020-21. The state said that was likely because the exam is more cumulative rather than course-specific like the state exams.

Click here or here to view the report results.

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