Hybrid and remote learning last year proved not to be nearly as effective as normal learning – not only at local schools but across the state — according to test scores released last week for the state-mandated 2021 Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR).
In Riverside Elementary School District 96, 53.7 percent of students taking the test met or exceeded state standards in English Language Arts in 2021 compared to the 73.1 percent who did so in 2019, the last time elementary and junior high school students were tested.
The IAR, given annually to third- through eighth-graders, was not given in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Scores on the math portion of the test also declined and were generally lower than ELA scores. In District 96, 47.5 percent of students who took the IAR in spring 2021 met or exceeded standards compared to 58.4 percent who met the grade in 2019.
Area administrators say that the decline in test scores is not surprising since instructional time was reduced during the pandemic.
“We knew that across the board our percentages were probably going to drop,” said District 96 Director of Teaching and Learning Angela Dolezal. “Most districts regressed in scores.”
Statewide 16.6 percent fewer students met state-level standards in ELA in 2021 compared to 2019 and 17.8 percent fewer students met state standards in math.
District 96 superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye said the test results were about in line with expectations.
“It is not as meaningful as it was in past years,” Ryan-Toye said of the test results. “We have a clear understanding that there was less growth for students during the time of the pandemic. Our goal is to acknowledge where kids are now, meet them where they are and help them move forward.”
Dolezal said teachers have had to adjust the curriculum to accommodate gaps in students learning. For example, this year’s fourth-graders are having to learn, or review, multiplication concepts and skills they normally would have mastered in third grade.
“We have adjusted our instructional practices and adjusted our scopes and sequences to accommodate for some of the instructional pieces that students might have missed because of shortened instructional time,” Dolezal said.
Dolezal said that it will take time for students to recover from the lost learning during the pandemic.
“We do see this as our new baseline,” Dolezal said. “We know that we’re not going to cover the gap that we’ve see from pre-pandemic to now … but we will continue to work on student growth because we want to make sure as educators our students are constantly growing and that they’re not staying stagnant.”
Central School was the highest-performing elementary school in District 96 with 62 percent of students meeting state standards in ELA and 55 percent making the grade in math. At Blythe Park School 65 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in ELA, but only 47 percent did so in math.
At Ames School 57 percent of students made the grade in ELA while 54 percent did so math. Hollywood School was the lowest-performing school in District 96, with 49 percent meeting or exceeding state standards in ELA and 41 percent doing so in math.
At L.J. Hauser Junior High School, 50 percent of test takers made the grade in ELA and 49 percent did so in math.
Scores were also down in other districts, including Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95.
At Brook Park Elementary School, 36 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in ELA and just 25 percent did so in math in 2021. Two years ago, the last time the assessments were given, 56 percent of Brook Park students met or exceeded state standards in ELA and 37 percent did so in math.
At S.E. Gross Middle School, meanwhile, 43 percent of students met or exceeded state standards in ELA in 2021 compared to 67 percent who did so in 2019. In math only 27 percent of Gross School test takers made the grade last year compared to 41 percent on 2019.
Gross performed better than Hauser on one measure, the percentage of eighth-graders passing algebra. Forty-eight percent of Gross School eighth-graders met state standards in algebra compared to 31 percent of Hauser eighth-graders.
Scores also fell sharply at Komarek School District 94 in North Riverside. Only 29 percent of Komarek students met the grade in ELA in 2021 compared to 48 percent who did so in 2019. In math 24 percent of Komarek students met or exceeded state standards compared to the 30 percent in 2019.
At Congress Park School in southwest Brookfield, which is part of LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, scores stayed fairly constant. In fact, math scores slightly increased at Congress Park as 31 percent of Congress Park students met or exceeded state standards in 2021 compared to 30 percent who did so in 2019.
In ELA there was a slight drop as 37 percent of Congress Park School students made the grade in ELA in 2021 compared to the 40 percent who did so in 2019.
The lowest-performing district in the area was Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, which had almost no in-person instruction during the 2020-21 school year. At Lincoln School in southeast Brookfield just 11 percent of students met state standards in ELA in 2021, with none exceeding state standards. In 2019, 20 percent of Lincoln met the state standards in ELA and 1 percent exceeded state standards.
In math, only 6 percent of Lincoln School students met state standards in 2021. In 2019, 16 percent of Lincoln students met the math standards and 1 percent exceeded them.