Glynn County Schools, like most school districts, has seen the COVID-19 pandemic impact its students’ test scores.

The school district’s assessment scores fell in many end-of-course test areas last year.

Educators, parents and others have long awaited data that shows the tangible effect the pandemic has had on students’ academic performance. This recent data paints a picture of how Glynn County’s students were affected and how their most recent scores compare to that of other students in Georgia.

Scott Spence, superintendent, and the Glynn County Board of Education reviewed last week the assessments for third through eight grade, as well as end-of-course high school tests from 2021.

The scores will be used to predict the county’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores at the end of this year.

“We were not given a CCRPI score for the 2019-2020 year or for last year, 2021,” Spence said. “So we’ll be given a CCRPI score at the end of this year.”

Spence compared local results to data from the state and other schools in southeast Georgia.

It’s important to note, he said, that the majority of Glynn County students were tested, despite some being in virtual learning for part of the school year.

“In Glynn County, we gave our tests to every possible kid,” Spence said. “We did not eliminate anyone, so most of our students were face-to-face,” he said.

Even virtual students were brought in for the tests, he said.

“In many places, the students did not take the tests,” Spence noted.

The fourth grade math average in Glynn County dropped 10 points. The fifth grade math average barely dropped but fell significantly at the state level. Third grade English language arts fell nine points, while the state fell 10 and the RESA dropped four.

A significant drop that Spence pointed out was in U.S. history end-of-course assessment scores.

“One of the things we’ve been doing really well over the last five or six, seven years is increasing our U.S. History and our economics scores as a whole here in the school system,” he said. “Last year, of course, you can see we went from 87 in 2019 to 72. That was one of our bigger drops, with 15% less of students passing. But the state dropped and the RESA dropped.”

Another big drop was in American literature, which descended from 88% passing in 2019 to 78% last year.

“That was a shock, to be honest,” Spence said. “I did not think we would drop this far in high school language arts.”

School board member Jerry Mancil asked during the work session Thursday if test score fluctuations are being directly attributed to the pandemic. Spence said he will not make any assumptions, but it’s likely the case.

“We had kids out of school for 150 days, and then we had some kids in virtual at the beginning of the year,” Spence said. “Remember last year we started off with about 66% of our kids face-to-face. We ended up with about 94% … Everything dropped across the state, not just the Glynn County School System.”

Many expected to see a decline in test scores, said school board member Hank Yeargan.

“It’s going to be interesting to see over the next few years what the consequences of us being out of school, of quarantine, all the factors that we’ve been discussing over the last two months — actually, a year and a half,” he said. “But I’m confident that our teachers are up for that task.”

Spence said his goal is for the school system’s academic performance to improve beyond even what it was when the pandemic began.

“I don’t want to get back to where we were. I want to go above that,” he said. “And I want to do it next year, not two years from now, not three years.”

A lot of CARES Act funding has gone toward catching students up because of the pandemic, he said.

“But there’s nothing better than a good teacher in that classroom,” Spence said. “You can buy all the programs you want to buy, but you’ve got to have good instructors.”

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