CLEVELAND — Looking at the state testing results is important for districts and parents. For the second consecutive school year, students are learning in a pandemic. But this year, some of the uncertainty about how they're doing has been cleared away thanks to the data released by the Ohio Department of Education earlier this week.
"We have to remember, they are kids. They're learning in a completely different way," said Laila Alrajabi, a parent with young learners in the Parma City Schools District.
Education experts, like Kathi Howard-Primes, said the numbers can be difficult to discern without help.
"As an educator, data is very important, and parents, they usually get this information, and they probably don't know exactly what to do with it." she said.
"The teacher or the guidance counselor, I'm sure will explain how you can put supportive services in place or intervention support services to help your child succeed."
Howard-Primes said now is the time to reach out to school leaders and teachers to help put an early plan in place for children as they navigate more pandemic learning.
She was not surprised that the test results were lower in 2021 than in 2019; the last time students were evaluated on the state level. Testing in Spring 2020 was suspended. On average, there was a 7.8% drop in proficiency for all subjects in the state. News 5 took a closer look at the district-level data.
Search a database showing district test scores in 2019 vs. 2021 for local districts:
Despite the drops, Alrajabi saw big promise in even the small gains.
"A lot of parents felt like they weren't learning in the same way," she said, standing outside Dentzler Elementary School in Parma on Wednesday. "But, to know that they actually were and that there was improvement from the beginning to the end was a good feeling."
Elementary students in the district were, on average, 14.97% less proficient in English/language arts and math last year. The subject with the largest drop in understanding was 3rd-grade math. The scores in that category dropped by 25.44% from 2019.
"Even in the pandemic, there is still rigor that is expected," said Kim Sutton about what kids need to thrive. Her child is in the Orange School District.
The test scores there show an overall drop of 6.8% from year-to-year learning. Seventh-grade math had the largest learning gap in the district. The proficiency in that subject and grade level fell by 31.46%.
But, as a parent, Sutton knows, these tests are a snapshot of how learning went last year so, "looking at the student holistically is really, I think, what's very important here, especially with the past year with the pandemic."