Raleigh, N.C. — The results of North Carolina’s standardized tests given this spring — more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and inconsistent learning modes — are in: For most tests, less than half of students passed.
Fifth and eighth grade science test yielded the best results, with 53.9% of fifth graders and 70.3% of eighth graders passing their tests.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction officials presented the results Wednesday to the North Carolina State Board of Education, describing the data as just the first nugget of insight into how effectively students learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the board will get a more comprehensive report on “learning loss” during the 2020-21 school year.
The test results are lower than those from the last tests given, during the 2018-19 school year. But the years can’t be directly compared. Some of the tests’ defined achievement levels were altered, some tests had been revised and a lower share of students took the tests than normal.
“The reporting of the data is to support local educators and parents in planning and targeting resources for the upcoming school year that were are now in,” DPI Director of Accountability Services Tammy Howard told the board. The tests results are not intended for accountability or to make comparisons, she said.
Accountability will be minimal for students and educators, compared to normal years, and the test results won’t be used to score schools or identify any a “low performing,” per federal and state reprieves from those requirements.
The U.S. Department of Education granted North Carolina a waiver from the requirement that they ensure at least 95% of students take their required standardized tests.
While Howard said the share of students testing was higher than expected — the tests were administered in-person only — it was still mostly below 95%. Of the 18 tests administered, only four had 95% participation rates. Participation otherwise ranged from 90% to 94%, with seven tests having 92% participation.