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The Daily Tar Heel

NCDPI data shows test performance improved, but still not to pre-pandemic levels

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North Carolina school performance results from the 2022-2023 school year has been released, indicating progress.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction published its 2022-23 school year reports for grades third through 12th. These reports include statistics for school performance, standardized testing and long-term learning goals, and showed that test scores have improved across almost every subject.

The only end-of-year assessment scores that reported a decrease compared to the previous year were eighth grade science and English II, Tammy Howard, senior director of accountability and testing at NCDPI, said. 

For eighth grade science, the percentage of students meeting the College and Career Readiness standard decreased by 4.1 percent. English II decreased by 0.2 percent, Howard said.

She said that, despite improved test results for every subject except eighth grade science and English II, test performance grades are still lower than 2018-19 results – the last report before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shelly Blanchard, a parent of a high school senior in New Hanover County, said her child's district has been majorly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Blanchard said the pandemic caused a decrease in test performance because students attended school remotely for a year and a half. 

Some parents in New Hanover County are worried that the high school students who were in school through the COVID-19 pandemic are now about to graduate without sufficient math skills, Blanchard said.

“So it's sad," she said. "It's a very sad situation. They're about to go into universities where they're expected to have had an understanding."

She said she also believes that her district lacks strong teachers and that many teachers are leaving because they can get higher-paying jobs elsewhere. According to data from the NCDPI, there were more than 5,000 teacher vacancies across the state on the 40th day of the 2022-23 school year.

“There was a huge block of math classes where there wasn't a teacher at the beginning of the year,” Blanchard said.

Howard said the NCDPI's overarching goal is to see consistent improvement in student achievement.

“I think the goal is — of course — to get back to where we were in 2018-19," she said. "But it's always also the goal to go beyond where we were in 2018-19."

NCDPI provides separate school performance data for reading and math in grades third through eighth, Blanchard said. According to this year’s data, there have been larger increases in math test scores than in reading test scores. 

Drew Polly, a professor in the elementary education program at UNC Charlotte, said there’s a strong correlation between the percentage of students that qualify for free and/or reduced lunch and school report card grades. Polly said educators should focus on growth, rather than being obsessed with the end-of-grade test.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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