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Math, reading assessments show LPS students fell slightly behind during remote learning

But administrators said overall, they’re still performing well, and can be easily caught up over the next year.
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 9:17 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2020 at 9:38 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s no doubt that the way Lincoln children are learning is different this year than it’s ever been. But Lincoln Public Schools administrators said students have been largely unaffected.

The district released data from reading and math tests, called MAP tests, taken by third through eighth graders in the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020.

“Students lost out of in-person learning during the last quarter of the last school year,” Matt Larson, Associate Superintendent for Instruction, said. “We were concerned to see if there was any impact from that on their learning.”

The district said they were pleasantly surprised. Overall, students lost very few reading skills and some math skills.

“Despite the pandemic, our performance was still strong with students performing at the 60th or 70th percentiles at most schools,” Larson said.

The data, shows not the test scores themselves, but the percentile LPS students performed in, compared to set of “normative” scores from years prior when there was no pandemic, making it even more impressive that the students scored how they did, Larson said.

This shows the percentile students performed in for their reading skills in 2019, compared to...
This shows the percentile students performed in for their reading skills in 2019, compared to their skills in 2020.(Lincoln Public Schools)
This shows how Lincoln students scored on math tests in 2019 compared to 2020.
This shows how Lincoln students scored on math tests in 2019 compared to 2020.(Lincoln Public Schools)

Looking grade-by-grade, third graders scored in the 84th percentile for reading in the fall of 2019 and scored the same this fall.

Fourth graders scored in the 84th percentile for reading in 2019 and scored in the 83rd percentile in 2020.

Fifth graders scored in the 83rd percentile for reading in 2019 and in the 78th percentile in 2020. Fifth graders were the first grade level to take math tests as well, they scored in the 82nd percentile for math in 2019 and the 66th percentile in 2020.

Sixth graders scored in the 83rd percentile for reading in 2019 and the 78th in 2020. In math, sixth graders scored in the 79th percentile in 2019 and the 60th in 2020.

Seventh graders scored in the 75th percentile in reading in 2019 and the 72nd percentile in 2020. In math, seventh graders scored in the 74th percentile in 2019 and the 69th in 2020.

Eighth graders scored in the 78th percentile in reading for 2019 and the 73rd in 2020. For math, eighth graders scored in the 83rd percentile in 2019 and the 77th in 2020.

He said these results aren’t surprising and follow national trends that show math skills suffered most during remote learning.

“Math is more dependent on in-person class instruction because the subject is so skill oriented and builds from one grade to the next,” Larson said.

He said once students establish reading skills in first and second grade, they can carry those will them throughout later years in school, and are more likely to read on their own at home than they are to do math.

The scores vary school-by-school, but Larson said the tests are a direct comparison with how the individual student did last year, to how they did this year, not an indication of the success of the school itself.

Larson said they were worried that students at lower income Title 1 schools would see a bigger slide in scores.

“There were equity concerns that perhaps a lack of internet or other supports, that Title students would be more impacted,” Larson said.

He said the data doesn’t show that.

Larson said in some cases, Title 1 schools met growth targets more than non-Title schools did.

Overall, Larson said the takeaway from this data is that LPS students are doing fine considering all the changes they’ve been through.

He said now, the focus is on continuing to assess their learning and finding ways to re-teach old skills while continuing new material.

“Remember, this test is grades three through eight so we will have at least four years of instruction with these students after the tests,” Larson said. “So we are confident by the time they graduate high school there will be little to no impact.”

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