When it came to math, Palo Alto saw a 2.8 point drop in students meeting or exceeding standards, compared to 5.2 points countywide and 6.4 points across the state.
Palo Alto students continue to perform far above the county and state averages. In Palo Alto, 78.8% of students passed the math test this spring. That's more than double the statewide average of 33.4% of students passing. In English, 83% of students passed, well above the 47.1% statewide average.
On Oct. 24, the California Department of Education released the 2021-2022 test results for the Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math. Students take the exams in third through eighth grade and again in eleventh grade.
This past spring marked the first year of regular testing since before the pandemic. Tests weren't administered in the 2019-2020 school year and were optional in 2020-2021. The exams were shorter than their pre-pandemic counterparts, but the state said the scores had the same accuracy because questions were reduced consistently across all test areas, according to the nonprofit news outlet EdSource.
Both in California and across the country, standardized test results have shown the impact of the pandemic and school closures on students' learning.
"These baseline data underscore what many of us know: that the road to recovery is long and our students will need sustained support over many years," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in a press release.
Despite the comparatively smaller impact on overall scores seen in Palo Alto, large and long-standing gaps in achievement between student groups remain. In 2022, 41.7% of Latino students met or exceeded standards in math, compared to 79.3% of white students and 93.1% of Asian students. In English, those numbers are 53.3%, 85.4% and 93.6%, respectively.
The pandemic's impact on student learning also wasn't necessarily even distributed. There was a 6.1 point decline in the share of Latino students passing the math exam between 2019 and 2022, compared to a 3.7 point decline for white students and only a 0.72 point drop for Asian students.
In English, all racial groups improved their average performance, with a 1.8 point increase in Latino students passing, 0.8 for white students and 2.1 for Asian students.
While the state reports data for any group with more than 10 students, when the population of students in a certain category is small, the data can be more volatile over time. Black students saw a 15.6% increase in the share who passed the English exam, but only 88 Black students in Palo Alto had test results reported. The number of Filipino as well as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students reporting scores is similarly below 100.
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