“To think we are out of that situation is a mistake,” State testing scores show COVID-19’s impact on Oklahoma students

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Thursday, the State Board of Education presented the school testing numbers for 2021 – and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is calling them alarming.

These numbers are the first look we are getting at how the pandemic has impacted our schools.

There was no testing in 2020, so 2021’s numbers are being compared to 2019.

Overall scores in English Language Arts and Math dropped around 10%.

Science dropped around 5%.

The testing was not done in Spring of 2020 due to the pandemic – so these numbers are giving a look at its impact.

But as the pandemic rages on – officials say it’s more crucial than ever to protect our students and faculty.

Hofmeister says it’s important to keep looking forward as we look back at last year’s results.

“There are some who are saying that this year is far worse than even last year,” she said. 

In a year when politics at the State Capitol have played a role in the COVID precautions districts can implement, Hofmeister is not mincing words on the consequences.

“I do think it’s important for districts to have the ability to deal with those outbreaks as they happen and partner with public health officials so they can make for the least amount of disruption to the school operations,” she said. 

Test scores from spring of 2021 show just how hard school closures, quarantine and distance learning were on all students.

It appears the pandemic took even more of a toll on those who are younger.

“We know that our children who are the youngest are going to have a real impact if they continue to be disruption when it comes to learning to read and for those who are English learners, that comes at every grade for them,” said Hofmeister. 

Performance in third grade English Language Arts as well as Math both dropped 14% from 2019 to 2021.

“For kids who may have a reading struggle or dyslexia that runs in their family, they need extra support and for many, many children in Oklahoma, that was lost during the last school year or it was very disrupted,” Hofmeister said.

Hofmeister says the effects of this ongoing pandemic will have a compounded effect for years to come and mitigation efforts are necessary for our students.

“We still have 5-11 year-olds who are not vaccinated, haven’t even had that opportunity,” she said. “So to think we are out of that situation is a mistake. We’re hearing from our families that we want to be back to normal but we can’t let our foot up off the gas when it comes to being vigilant and careful to reduce the spread – even when we’re exhausted so we can be in person.”

You can see the data presented to the State Board of Education here.

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