A statewide report on public school students in Connecticut during the pandemic has concluded that while graduation rates rose, other evidence showed evidence of learning loss.
Those who learned in in-person settings during the 2020-21 school year lost the least ground academically, the Department of Education’s Condition of Education report concluded. That trend held true across all grades and most student groups.
Those students who learned in hybrid or fully remote models showed “substantially weaker achievement and growth during the pandemic,” particularly in mathematics, according to the report.
The report’s assessment of graduation rates yielded mixed results. While the graduation rate rose slightly to 88.8%, which is above the national average, the percent of ninth-grade students on track to graduate was the lowest in seven years.
The report of 1,041 schools is published annually and compiled by state education officials including Education Department Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker.
It found the percentage of the state’s 11th- and 12th-grades meeting the college and career readiness benchmark on placement exams such as the SAT and ACT declined, from 42.6% in 2018-19 to 36% in 2020-21.
Chronic absenteeism increased, from about 12% in 2019-20 to 19% in 2020-21. It is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year for any reason; the study used slight different measures than in previous years to account for different learning models during the pandemic.
Enrollment in Connecticut public schools declined more steeply than in recent years as it continued to become more diverse.
It fell by 14,750 students, or just under 3%, in 2020-21 compared to the previous year, a one-year decline the report said would normally occur over a five-year period. About 43% of students come from low-income families.