State Testing Shows Steep Declines in Math and Reading Scores

The state has finally released the results of the 2022 Smarter Balanced standardized tests, following pressure. As expected, the results aren't good.

The results show major setbacks in learning during the pandemic, with less than half of students meeting the state standard in English language arts (-4 percentage points to 47% from 2018-19) and only one-third of students meeting the standard in math (-7 percentage points to 33%). 

For six years, beginning in 2014-15, students were making steady progress. Those gains have now been erased. 

School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have been blamed for the decline. Cold Spring School District in Santa Barbara — which reopened in September 2020 and held classes outdoors — saw an improvement in scores in 2022.

National testing data, however, yields no firm conclusions, federal officials said. That data — released on the same day as the Smarter Balance scores — shows widespread learning loss across the nation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the national scores show California was right to focus on safety at the height of COVID.

Interestingly, California’s scores show the pandemic did not worsen the achievement gap as many assumed it would have for disadvantaged students and students of color.

“For math, rates for economically disadvantaged students actually dropped slightly less than the average drop for all students, falling 6 percentage points but still resulting in an abysmal 21% meeting standards. English learners went from 13% to 10%. Students with disabilities went from 13% to 11%,” CalMatters reports

“The achievement gap for Black students closed slightly, from a 33 percentage-point difference from their white peers in 2019 to 31 percentage points in 2022. American Indian, Asian and Latino students also saw drops that were largely proportional to that of their white peers. Latino students saw their achievement gap grow in math scores by one percentage point.”

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