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KDE releases 2020-21 state standardized testing results; district leaders say they don't show a full picture

Leaders say the results not only show an incompletable picture of student achievement but also leave out the extra work that teachers and staff put in.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky students took state standardized testing in the spring of 2021 after the state canceled testing for the 2019-20 school year. About five months later, those results have been released to the public.

Statewide, scores in the Kentucky Summative Assessment’s four categories, reading, math, writing and science, are down at the elementary, middle and high school levels. 

But state and school leaders said these results don’t tell the whole story.

The Kentucky Department of Education wrote in a release that because the 2020-21 school year had so many learning disruptions and challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, this data cannot be directly compared to data from previous years.

These results will not be used for accountability or school ratings purposes. Factors in testing were different – the tests were condensed and modified, and participation varied by district.

This graph shows an average of participation by grade level at the state level, as well as three districts in the area: JCPS, Hardin Co. Schools, and Oldham Co. Schools.

Credit: WHAS

The U.S. Department of Education required districts to administer state assessments this past spring. KDE Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass disagreed with that decision, saying better data would come from individual district testing. Many school leaders agree.

“Releasing this data, having accountability testing…last spring, I think was a terrible decision, [I’m] very disappointed. Probably the most disappointed I've been in a governmental agency in requiring standardized testing,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.

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Districts have been using their own assessments to determine where students need support. JCPS uses MAP testing, and Hardin County uses an assessment called i-Ready.

“Looking at our internal assessment, we knew that learning loss had occurred because of the pandemic, and last year, and all the challenges that were faced, our staff, our school district faced,” Oldham County Superintendent Dr. Jason Radford said.

Radford and his team have already identified areas where students need assistance and began making up for gaps in student’s learning in the summer.

These state test results not only show an incompletable picture of student achievement but also leave out the extra work that teachers and staff put in over the past year and a half.

“What I’m most proud of is how we have responded to that…and the plans we put in place and executed this past summer, and then as we lead into this current school year,” Radford said.

Dr. Glass also said what these results do not show are the real-life lessons students learned as the result of the pandemic.

“Our students learned firsthand the importance of self-motivation self-discipline, organization and decision making,” Glass said. “They solved problems creatively to get access to WIFI, quiet spaces to learn and hard to find information and they collaborated with their peers and expanded their networks of support.”

If you want to see more specific results from this testing – you can search for your district here

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