Recently released SBAC scores show widening gulf between high-need and non-high-need students; remote and in-person learning models

On September 1, the Connecticut State Department of Education released 2020-21 Smarter Balance (SBAC) scores for students in grades 3-8.

Results show that students from high-need backgrounds (low-income, English language learner and students with disabilities) performed significantly lower than non-high need students. In English Language Arts (ELA), the gap in proficiency for in-person learners was 43.6 percentage points. If students participated in a remote model, the gap was 39.6 percentage points.

  • In Person ELA Gap: High-Need: 33.6% proficient vs. Non-High Need: 77.2% proficient
  • Remote ELA Gap: High-Need: 22.8% proficient vs. Non-High Need: 62.4% proficient

The results for math equally as troubling. The gap in proficiency for in-person learners was 43.2 percentage points. If students participated in a remote model, the gap was 34.3 percentage points.

  • In Person Math Gap: High-Need: 25.5% proficient vs. Non-High Need: 68.7% proficient
  • Remote Math Gap: High-Need: 10.9% proficient vs. Non-High Need: 45.2% proficient

Executive Director Subira Gordon said: “These results show us that we’ve got a lot of work to do to ensure kids don’t permanently miss out on learning opportunities. If you are a high-needs, remote learner, there’s only a 1 in 10 chance you are on track for math. We can’t let that be the normal moving forward.”

As school districts in Connecticut submit plans for American Rescue Plan aid, they must highlight how they plan to mitigate learning loss and offer supplemental learning opportunities like after-school and summer programming.

Gordon added: “At ConnCAN, we’re actively analyzing all American Rescue Plan fund applications to ensure they are offering high-value academic support for kids. Parents and families have a right to know–line by line and dollar by dollar–what their schools are doing to accelerate learning and increase student engagement, especially given the recently published assessment results. Parents deserve transparency and their children deserve results.”

The results are a point-in-time understanding of how children are progressing academically. With beginning-of-the-year benchmark assessments, teachers and parents can better understand the learning needs of their children.

ConnCAN is committed to ensuring that all kids have access to great schools. Due to the influx of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, Connecticut schools have the short-term resources needed to address these unacceptable gaps in student learning. To ensure that happens, educators, advocates and elected officials must ensure these resources are being wisely spent.


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