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Poorest Students Avoided COVID Slide on NWEA Tests, Cleveland Data Show

Patrick O’Donnell, The 74 Million |

The Cleveland school district offers a look at the students most left out of the data from NWEA. A big caveat to the recent NWEA results was that they came mostly from white and affluent students, while poor, minority and disadvantaged students were underrepresented.

When comparing this year’s scores to last year’s, declines were generally small. For instance, seventh graders this year earned a 205.3 English score this fall, compared to 205.6 for last year’s seventh graders. In a few cases, point drops were larger. Sixth grade math was a rough spot, with this year’s sixth graders scoring 201.5 compared to the 204.9 for last year’s sixth graders. But every class cohort, like third graders last year moving to fourth grade this year, saw slightly improved scores this fall over their own scores from last fall and last winter.

The district considers the results “mostly flat.” They did not regress over the spring school shutdowns, over summer break or so far this year, even with classes entirely online.

More than half the Cleveland school district students are Black and 100 percent of students receive free lunch, the main indicator of student poverty. Cleveland also has the highest levels of childhood poverty in the country.

While Cleveland students are the exact demographic underrepresented in the national data, NWEA cautioned not to read too much into Cleveland’s results. “I am not sure it’s possible to say the pattern observed in Cleveland generalizes to the entire poor, minority population, but it is encouraging that their results match the national trend,” said NWEA researcher Megan Kuhfeld.

Deeper dive into the data at the 74 Million.

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