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'New normal': New York state to lower cutoff scores for standardized tests due to 'learning loss' from COVID lockdowns

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New York state will lower its threshold for what is considered to be "proficient" on its standardized tests to account for a loss of learning in students from 2019 to 2022, according to reporting by the Daily Caller.

The state's scoring committee will being using data from 2022 as the benchmark for student scoring, despite standardized scores in subjects such as math proficiency dropping by 7.6 points compared to 2019, according to Spectrum News.

“Only a quarter of students in the 8th grade, which is the latest grade that we have test scores for, were able to be proficient in math,” said David Bloomfield, professor of education leadership, law, and policy at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

“That’s really worrisome," he added.

According to the New York Post, 20% of students refused to take the tests in 2022; the exams became optional in 2021. That year, numbers were even more dire, as most students were remote due to COVID shutdowns, resulting in around just 40% of students actually taking the state exams.

The tests' advisory committee will reportedly be lowering expectations for 2023, decreasing the volume of material for students to be proficient in.

“Right now we’re setting new cut scores for 2023. This is the baseline moving forward,” said Technical Advisory Committee Co-Chair Marianne Perie.

“Yes, there’s learning loss between 2019 and 2022, but in some ways we don’t want to keep going backwards,” Perie continued, adding, “We’re at this new normal. So for New York we are saying the new baseline is 2022.”

Grades 3-8 only achieved a 47% proficiency rate in English language arts in 2022, with just 38% of kids demonstrating proficiency on the standardized tests.

Despite this, ELA test scores actually rose slightly by 1.6% in 2022, but younger students saw their scores drop. Educators believe that children were not getting support in reading that they required due to not being in class.

"There is a concern that kids in lower grades who are trying to learn to read really did not do well on these tests,” said Bloomfield.

In one outlying example from the New York Post, a public school in Jamaica, Queens, New York, scored a 90% proficiency rate on the ELA tests. This came from just a 33% participation rate, however, as only 136 of 602 students took the test, with 123 students passing it.

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