Unified SD reading scores are stable, while math scores are declining, the federal report said

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Joint Headquarters San Diego
The Eugene Brooker Education Center is the headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District. Photo file

San Diego Unified School District announced on Monday that a US Department of Education The report found that reading scores for fourth- and eighth-graders remained largely unchanged from 2019, while math scores declined.

California public schools showed similar results, while United States public schools also saw declines in reading and math for both grade levels tested, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress 2022also known as the National Report.

According to a news release from the San Diego Unified School District, large cities with populations of 250,000 or more dropped in fourth-grade reading and math at both grade levels and had equal scores in eighth-grade reading.

In math, the district’s fourth-graders went from 42 percent on the NAEP in 2019 to 34 percent this year, according to the report. For eighth graders, the NAEP proficiency rate dropped from 35% to 28%. SDUSD said the results are in line with California state testing results, where math dropped more sharply than reading.

In the reading category, all district student groups — disabilities, English language learners, gender, income eligibility and race/ethnicity — performed relatively similarly for both grade levels, according to SDUSD.

According to San Diego Unified, while most student groups experienced declines in both grades in math, there were exceptions: fourth- and eighth-grade Asian/Pacific Islander students and eighth-grade Latino students had no change in math scores in 2022 compared to 2019 year.

Both scores in the highest performance range — the 90th percentile or 10th percentile — also had unchanged math scores. San Diego Superintendent Lamont Jackson said the district needs to do better, “but these results show that our students and teachers are resilient. Our students are back in the classroom, and that’s an important first step that we must recognize.”

“We must remember that the pandemic has required a turnaround from our schools, students and teachers,” Jackson added. “We have implemented robust safety measures to protect our school communities, such as ventilation and air conditioning filtration systems, face masks, and contact tracing protocols — all while maintaining the continuity of student learning and ensuring access to school meals and Internet connectivity.”

Raymond K. Hart, executive director of the Greater City School Board, said the NAEP data, collected at the peak of Omicron’s COVID-19 variant wave, reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In fourth- and eighth-grade reading, San Diego maintained pre-pandemic scores, unlike the nation, which saw declines in both grades,” Hart said. “Changes in San Diego’s math scores are in line with national, California and other major cities.”

“Sustaining success in any grade or subject during a global crisis is no easy feat, and this is a testament to San Diego’s education continuity planning during the crisis and their proactive recovery efforts once schools reopen,” Hart said. “In particular, the district continued to use a multi-pronged approach to literacy that has shown success over time.”

San Diego Unified has launched academic and mental health initiatives to help students affected by the pandemic. Fabiola Bagula, deputy district inspector, said the current narrative and urgency of “learning loss” must be challenged.

“Yes, there was a comprehensive loss,” Bagulya said. “However, as we all experienced this loss at the same time, the public school system was one of the first major organizations to quickly turn around and take on the responsibility that we have always had. We teach our students and change our practices to meet the needs of the day. We have put many strategies in place to support every student and we understand the impact of COVID and quarantine on our children’s social lives.”

To help students recover, San Diego Unified officials said initiatives include:

  • expanded early education programs, including universal transitional kindergarten
  • enhanced learning opportunities outside the classroom
  • subject area support for literacy, math and other subjects
  • expanding visual and performing arts learning and opportunities
  • prioritize standards-based assessment, learning, and teaching

First introduced in 1969, the NAEP is a congressionally mandated assessment overseen by the US Department of Education. It also covers science and writing.

More information about San Diego Unified scores and NAEP information can be found at www.nationsreportcard.gov.

The City News Service prepared this article.


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