Maryland school-readiness rates drop after pandemic-related learning disruptions

Maryland students appear to have suffered heightened levels of learning loss after nearly two years of pandemic-related disruptions, the state’s department of education said Wednesday.

A preliminary review of a learning assessment test found an overall decline in student proficiency for English language arts, mathematics and kindergarten readiness, the department said in a statement.

Across the state, 92% of students in grades 3-8 took the test in the fall, with 35% meeting or exceeding expectations in English, 39% for science and just 15% for math. In the 2018-19 school year, 43.7% of students met or exceeded expectations for English, and 33% for math.

The kindergarten readiness assessment dropped from 47% in the 2018-19 school year to 40% meeting expectations for the current school year.

The department said the findings are in line with trends seen among students nationally.

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury said the department expected to find significant learning disruptions, and now aims to provide Maryland students with more equal access to educational opportunities in order to offset the losses.

“This preliminary assessment data confirms what we anticipated: Learning suffered during the pandemic, and we must be innovative, collaborative and bold in our approach to accelerate student achievement and support mental, social, and emotional health,” Choudhury said in a statement. “We will not accept a return to normal, because normal was not good enough, especially for those who have been historically underserved.”

Local school systems are being provided with the assessment data in order to target accelerated learning programs to make up lost ground.

The department is also directing federal money from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief to accelerate student engagement, support mental health and address disruptions in education. Around $1.95 billion was made available to the state through the plan.

Final analysis of the results will be released at the end of January.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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