California Test Scores Decline; racial differences persist

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Most students in California failed to meet standards in math and English this year, state officials announced Monday, in another example of how test scores continue to fall after the pandemic — including notable declines for blacks and Hispanics.

Two out of three California students failed to meet state standards in math, and more than half failed to meet standards in English. The Los Angeles Times reported. The numbers were worse for students of color, with 84% of black students and 79% of Hispanic students failing to meet math standards in 2022.

The test results underscored the widespread impact of the pandemic, with traditionally underserved students facing the greatest challenges.

After the pandemic, math and reading scores dropped significantly across the country. For California, the numbers underscore a troubling trend before the pandemic, with 60% of students performing below grade level in math and nearly half in English.

“It’s fair for people to be concerned about the experiences the kids have had,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond told the newspaper. “But we also had 99,000 Californians who lost their lives to COVID. and we did what we thought was necessary to save lives. … Now is our time to focus on how to accelerate the recovery of students.”

State officials said the latest data contained some “encouraging signs.” The Department of Education compared the scores of students who took the tests in 2020-21 with the same students who took the tests this year, and found that “growth in performance in most grades is above the norm.”

Thurmond noted that the state is phasing in a plan to send all 4-year-olds to public school, and has spent $250 million on things like reading coaches and other specialists.

Still, Republicans have complained about the lack of progress, blaming Democrats who control state government.

“These test scores reflect the current state of education in California. We’re not keeping up with students in the most important subjects,” said James Gallagher, the Republican leader in the state Assembly. “This is another example of the mismanagement of the Democrats, and our children are suffering because of it.”

Results a national assessment showed failures for much of the country, including California. But California’s results didn’t drop as much as the national average.

“While California students have experienced less learning loss during the pandemic than students in most other states, these results are not a celebration, but a call to action — students are struggling academically, and we need to continue to get them the resources they need to succeed.” — California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said this.

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