New State Data Shows Pandemic Caused Academic Setbacks For California Students Last Year

After five years of gradual improvement, standardized test scores declined significantly last year

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Education during the pandemic has been tough, to say the least.

“It's been a challenge, especially being a working mom full time," said Parul Shridar, parent.

“It was a disaster, it was very emotional for her," said Heidi Whitney. "She developed a lot of anxiety and depression.”

Now, new data from the state shows us just how much of an impact it has had on our students. After five years of gradual improvement, standardized test scores declined significantly last year. But the parents we spoke to weren’t surprised.

"Her grades just plummeted," said Whitney.

That's because Heidy Whitney tells us her daughter Camilla, an 8th grader at Marston Middle school, struggled with online learning.

"As soon as she realized she didn't have to attend, how she could get away with things, especially on Zoom, her grades completely tanked," said Whitney.

She’s not alone. According to the data, the number of students who met or exceeded standards in English last year declined 12% from 2019. In math, they went down 6%.

For Latino students the drop was much sharper. They went down 22% in math and 10% in English. 

"[For my daughter] It was lack of motivation," said Whitney.

"I use to wake up for school and then I would log on to my computer and then go back to my bed," said Camilla, Whitney's daughter.

Shridhar's nine-year-old daughter also had a tough time with school last year.

"She would walk off [from the computer] and the teacher would be like, ‘Where are you? did you finish," said Shridhar.

The statewide chronic absenteeism rate also increased by 2.2% to 14.3% and graduation rates fell by around a half percent to 83.6%. 

"It was challenging, just overall, just education-wise, social interaction with other kids," said Shridhar.

Now as the COVID-19 surge begins to strain school systems across the county, parents worry this year could be a repeat of last year.

"We’ve had at least one sub in our classes this week and it's kind of annoying because we learn something, we’re doing good, and the teachers get Covid and we can't learn that anymore since there's a sub," said Camilla.

The California Department of Education said only 25% of its students took the statewide assessment tests last year. Typically about 95% of eligible students participate. 

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