(The Center Square) — Evidence of learning setbacks during the Covid-19 pandemic era for Pennsylvania students is reflected in Monday’s release of the state assessment scores.

In both reading and math, respective students in grades 3–8 had fewer proficient and above scores, were marginal in relation to mastering the basics, and had increases — some significantly so — for percentage of students below the basic level.

Students are measured in reading, math, science and writing in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests. Billed as a judgment by the Department of Education against “Pennsylvania’s world-class academic standards,” the strengths and weaknesses of students’ achievement scores is made available to parents, educators and administrators.

Compared to the 2019 report, the last prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the statistics in the 2022 analysis are not encouraging. Pennsylvania has experienced shifts away from traditional public schools since the pandemic began, according to a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

READ MORE — Pennsylvania charter school enrollment up 12 percent, public enrollment down 3 percent

At each of the 3–8 grade levels, performances in math were worse than in English language arts.

Among the worst was that thirteen percent more students were below basic in sixth-grade math and 10.7 percent below basic in eighth-grade math. The smallest decline in below basic math was fourth grade (4.8 percent). Those achieving basic ranged from 4% better in seventh grade to a decline of 1.8 percent for third grade.

Those excelling in math regressed. Seventh graders had the biggest drop in proficient or above, by 11.2 percent, and fourth graders had the smallest decline at 3.9 percent. In 2019 scores, third grade had the most proficient or above (56 percent) and the 2022 scores dropped by 8.3 percent to 47.7 percent. The eighth graders, with a 9.6 percent decline, fell to only 22.6 percent proficient or above in the subject matter.

Reading had similar metrics to math. The basic level had marginal changes, from 4.3 percent better scores for sixth grade to a drop of 3.1 percent in fifth grade. A higher percentage were below basic in every grade level, including declines of 8.3 percent in fourth grade, 8.1 percent in fifth grade, and 6.5 percent in third grade.

Four of the six grade levels in 2019 hit 60.4 percent or higher for proficiency or above. The best grade level of those, fourth at 63.6 percent, dropped the most in 2022, tumbling 11.4 percent to 52.2 percent. Third grade had a 9.6 percent decline to 52.3 percent. Seventh grade, at 57.2 percent following a 3.2 percent decline, had the highest percentage proficient and above.

Access the full report, and previous years reports here.

Alan Wooten has been a publisher, general manager and editor. His work has won national or state awards in every decade since the 1980s. He’s a proud graduate of Elon University and Farmville Central High in North Carolina.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

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