(The Center Square) – Georgia students scored lower in annual standardized tests compared with the previous testing year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia education officials said Monday.
Fewer students also took the tests at the end of the 2020-2021 school year because of COVID-19, the Georgia Department of Education said.
Numbers released Monday by the department showed elementary school students and middle schoolers fared better than high schoolers on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System tests during the unprecedented year. Officials said the results show the importance of offering in-person instruction.
“Georgia Milestones was designed to measure instruction during a typical school year, and 2020-2021 was anything but,” Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Given the impacts of the pandemic on all students, we expected some decreases this year. Georgia educators and students have worked extremely hard and these results do not reflect or diminish their efforts.”
Third- to eighth-graders scored an average of six points lower on the tests compared with the 2018-2019 school year. High schoolers scored between four to 15 points lower than in 2018-2019. Eighth-graders, however, scored one pointer higher in physical science.
Most Georgia school districts offered students in-person learning and remote classes during the 2020-2021 school year. Third- through eighth-graders are required to take the standardized tests to evaluate grade-level competency ahead of advancing to the next grade level. High school students must take subject-specific end-of-course tests. Woods instructed districts to allow parents of remote-only students to opt out of the tests required to be completed in person.
An average of 72% of students took the end-of-grade tests, while about 59% took the end-of-course tests.
Officials said state and local governments allocated funds to address learning loss. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in Georgia received $3.8 billion in grants in March from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, passed through the American Rescue Plan Act. The state’s K-12 schools also received $2 billion from the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 passed by Congress in December and $400 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020.
Georgia school districts started this school year with full in-person learning. Some schools, however, have reverted to remote classes because of COVID-19 outbreaks.