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I-TEAM: Georgia students’ test scores down during pandemic

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 7:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The state report card is out in Georgia for the pandemic last year, as expected student performance mostly dipped across the board. Put quite simply, Georgia’s top education leader, the state school superintendent said, “Georgia Milestones was designed to measure instruction during a typical school year, and 2020-2021 was anything but.”

So how bad is it? The I-Team spent the day analyzing the data.

The I-Team spent hours looking at data for 3rd and 8th grade – that’s the lowest and highest grades captured in the report.

And first of all, the fact the numbers went down doesn’t surprise anyone. That’s what leaders frankly told us as parents to expect. Plus it’s hard to tell if it’s an accurate read since the stakes were low. Scores counted for less than .01 percent of a student’s grade.

But it’s the best metric we have. So looking at our largest counties for reading. In Richmond County nearly 60 percent of third-graders tested below reading standards compared to 46 percent in 2019. And 48 percent of Richmond County 8th graders tested below reading standards compared to 40 percent in 2019.

In Columbia County 23 percent, nearly a quarter of 3rd graders fell below reading standards compared to only 14 percent in 2019. We found those numbers were identical for 8th graders.

Interestingly some smaller counties saw improvements in reading proficiency for older kids, 8th graders. That’s Burke, Lincoln, McDuffie, and Warren counties. The same could not be said for 3rd graders there which makes sense when you think what was asked of our youngest kids.

Now let’s look at math and start in Richmond County. Fifty-three percent of county third-graders met or excelled in math. A drop from 63 percent in 2019. For eighth-grade math scores, some good news: 36 percent met math standards compared to 33 percent in 2019, so a slight increase.

Ninety-one percent of Columbia County third-graders met the basic math standards or better. A drop of 2 percent compared to 2019. Seventy-nine percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded math standards, up 2 percent from 2019.

The divide and drops were more severe in some of our smaller and rural districts where broadband access is not equitable.

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