State test scores for Valley students rebound after pandemic drop

This year’s data shows math, English proficiency rates are just below pre-pandemic levels.

Results from state standardized tests taken this past spring show that the number of Snoqualmie Valley School District students meeting proficiency standards in language arts and math has rebounded slightly since a pandemic drop.

The results come from the state’s Smarter Balanced Assessment, an annual standardized test that’s intended to be taken by students in grades 3-8, and 10 each spring and measures knowledge in English language arts and math.

The 2022 SBA marked the first time in two years that the test was taken under its typical conditions, providing a possible glimpse into the pandemic’s impact.

In 2020 the test was canceled due to the pandemic. In 2021, the test — which is normally held each spring — was held the following fall, meaning students were tested on material they learned the previous school year.

“We feared for the worst and when the data came back we were pleasantly surprised,” said Dan Schlotfeldt, assistant superintendent of elementary teaching and learning.

“Not saying we don’t have work to do,” he said. “But we felt the sky is not falling based on the last 2.5 years.”

Math results saw the largest fluctuation since the pandemic, with 67% of students district-wide meeting proficiency standards in 2022. That’s up from 55% last year but below the 74% mark set in 2019.

District-wide language arts results in 2022 showed 77% of students met the state standard. That’s up from 73% last year, but still below the 80% mark reached in 2019.

Among all grade levels, the only proficiency rate to drop for a second consecutive year was sixth grade language arts which fell an additional 3% this past spring, after following 5% between 2019 and 2021.

Conversely, the only rate to exceed 2019 results was fifth grade math, which jumped from 68% in 2019 to 71% in 2022.

These results, which were calculated by district staff using data provided by the state, differ slightly from official state numbers.

The state, when calculating its proficiency rate, factors students into its denominator who attend district schools, but did not take the test that year, lowering the overall rate. The district analysis only includes students who actually took the test.

At the school board meeting last week, district officials said tests in the last two years have been complicated by a combination of scheduling challenges and students being out sick. That left many students who could have passed without an opportunity to take the test.

Although the tests offer some insight into the pandemic, they have some shortcomings in terms of practicality. The state does not provide a detailed analysis of what concepts students struggle with, only if they passed.

State-wide data for 2022 standardized test results has not yet been released, but district staff say so far they are pleased with what they’ve seen. However, they acknowledge that could change when they begin comparing themselves to other districts.

Drops in state testing performance were felt statewide between 2019 and 2021, according to data from the state Office Of Public Instruction, with students seeing a 12% drop in language arts proficiency and an 18.5% drop in math proficiency.