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COVID Caused Dip In Test Scores, More Absences For Ohio Schools

Masked students sit in a classroom at Worthington Kilbourne High School near Columbus in March 2021.
Dan Konik
Ohio Public Radio
Masked students sit in a classroom at Worthington Kilbourne High School near Columbus in March 2021.

Enrollment was lower, test scores were down and absences were way up in Ohio’s traditional public schools last year, as students, teachers and families struggled with the continuing impact of the pandemic. State and local education officials will use that data to plan how to deal with those challenges.

It’s probably not a surprise that last school year, state test results were down.

Chris Woolard, the senior executive director of the Ohio Department of Education's Center of Performance and Impact said they were about eight points lower in state language arts tests and 15 points down in math.

“We also know that some of the decreases were more pronounced in districts that were primarily in remote status last year," Woolard said. "So we look at the numbers that are definitely down and not surprisingly, it didn't sort of impact everybody the same.”

Nearly a quarter of students, 380,000, were chronically absent. The report found: "As is the typical pattern for chronic absenteeism, Ohio’s historically underserved and vulnerable students, and students in urban areas, experienced higher rates of chronic absenteeism than their peers."

Woolard said that wasn't a shock to anyone.

“Those numbers went up quite a bit last year, but at the same time, that's probably not surprising. I mean, there was a lot of different factors and sort of went into student attendance and all the messiness that was the last school year. So many ways we're not really surprised," Woolard said.

Enrollment also dropped by about 53,000 students or 3%, but half of that decrease was in preschool and kindergarten enrollment. Woolard said that may be mostly from parents holding kids back from kindergarten.

Homeschooling was up by about 18,000 students. While that is an increase of 55%, Woolard said he wouldn't call it a huge increase, but added that it's something ODE will continue to monitor.

"Part of what we hope to find over time is where those kids are coming from and where they continue to go over time," he said

The full report is here.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.