Gee & Ursula: Data shows pandemic has impacted learning for Washington students

Jan 18, 2022, 12:34 PM
Students line up in a hallway at a school in New York City. (File photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
(File photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Test scores for students in Washington state have dropped for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of students who met state standards on the math portion of the exam fell by 20%. Just 30% of public school students in grades 4-11 met standards in math, and in English, the portion of kids who met the standard fell 9%.

“These tests only determine which students are good at taking tests,” KIRO Radio host Gee Scott said about standardized tests. “They offer no meaningful measure of progress, and have not improved student performance.”

“Just because you test well does not point to the direction that you’re going to go in school, and in life,” he added. “You can actually test terrible in the math portion, and some how, some way, become an engineer. You can also test terrible in the English portion and some how become an English professor.”

Even the prep classes you can take, Gee says just show you how to test, rather than improving your math or your English.

“So the whole standardized tests — get rid of it,” he said.

“Albert Einstein was famously a terrible students. He got F’s in stuff, and I’m pretty sure he was kind of smart,” KIRO Radio guest host Aaron Mason noted. “My girlfriend’s father is a professor and a statistician, so he’s real into math and he’s real into education. Something he told me once was that the only statistic that you can pull from the SATs, from people taking the SATs, the only real correlation is the higher the score, the higher the probability that they have more income.”

“So basically if your parents do well, there’s a higher chance of you scoring higher on the SATs. It doesn’t really determine whether or not — like you said — you’re going to be good in school or good at life.”

State Board of Health will not yet make a decision to require COVID vaccine for students

Aaron also expressed that he just doesn’t know how anyone — students, parents, teachers — are functioning during the COVID pandemic.

“We have just completely upended education in this country, which was already having trouble breathing,” he said. “I know if it were me, and I was a student today, I would have a real tough time trying to absorb all this information amid this chaos.”

Producer Andrew Lanier noted that the data that came out is from standardized state testing, not the SAT or ACT that students typically take before college.

“They are not trying to get an accurate assessment of who is going to be successful in life, or who could potentially be a great college student or math professor,” Lanier said. “What they’re doing is they are taking a snapshot of where kids are at right now, and I think that’s important information to have.”

“What I want to know from here is how do you pick these kids back up?” he added. “… What I want to see from districts is a plan to address how to fix the problem, but I definitely don’t want to just get rid of testing. That strikes me as the same logic as ‘if you don’t test, there are no cases.'”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee and Ursula

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Gee & Ursula: Data shows pandemic has impacted learning for Washington students