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VERIFY: Did COVID pandemic learning lead to drop in test scores?

It's been a claim repeated time and time again by politicians, parents and activists. What do the numbers show?

PHOENIX — The pandemic threw a wrench into educations. In a matter of days, classes moved online. Laptops and hotspots were handed out as students were forced to move towards a new reality.

Standardized tests like the AZM2 were canceled in 2020.

“There have been severe learning loss,” Governor Doug Ducey said during his annual State of the State this winter.

What do the numbers show?

AZM2 data was presented in a Flagstaff Unified School District Meeting back in June. The data is preliminary but sources say the changes will not be drastic.

Data shows test scores dropping across the board from 2019-2021.

Both Math and English scores dropped over the pandemic.

Across all grades, the passing rates for the tests fell by more than 6% in English and by more than 12% in Math.

“It was like a meteor hit the earth.” Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s state Superintendent of Public Instruction said. “Not only has it impacted our families in their personal lives but also our students when they are trying to do their schoolwork and homework.”

Hoffman said the emotional trauma and issues could have impacted students as much as dealing with the reality of going to school online.

The preliminary data also shows that the younger a student was, often the bigger the drop in scores.

For instance, 8th graders passing rates drop in math by only 6%.

Third graders on the other hand saw passing rates drop 15 points.

“What I've heard from parents and teachers is it was more challenging to engage children,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman warns tests don't show everything when it comes to student learning. Hoffman said more local assessments could provide a better bellwether for student learning. However, that data is not collected at a state level.

The final results are scheduled to be released later this year.

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