Data released by the Illinois State Board of Education on Friday shed new light on the COVID-19 pandemic’s new impact on public schools, from academic performance to student attendance – with 1/ Five students across the state were consistently absent last year, a number that shows even higher in Chicago and in some demographic groups.
Student enrollment in public schools statewide for the 2020-2021 school year fell by nearly 70,000 students from the previous year, a 3.6% drop from pre-pandemic levels, according to Illinois Report Card data. recently announced by ISBE. While ISBE said officials predict a drop in line with declining enrollment trends in previous years, it attributes that 2.5% drop to the pandemic alone, but notes that the drop is “on par” with other states across the United States.
ISBE says it’s still not sure where those 70,000 students have gone – but the biggest drop has been in kindergarten grades, with enrollment down 17% and kindergarten down 8%, according to ISBE.
Last school year, one in five Illinois students was listed as chronically absent, defined as being absent at least 10% of school days with or without a valid excuse. That number is even higher for English learners, students with disabilities, low-income students as well as black and Hispanic students.
“When looking at the chronic absenteeism of the student population, we see an increase between programs, with the largest increase among English language learners, up 38% from 2019,” said the director. ISBE Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr Brenda Dixon said in a news conference about the data. “Looking at chronic absenteeism by race and ethnicity, we see the largest increase in black and Hispanic students. Among black students, chronic absenteeism increased by 26 percent. Among Hispanic students, the rate of chronic absenteeism increased 27%.”
“When we analyze these data, the context of the previous school year is extremely important,” continued Dixon. “We know from CDC national studies that school districts serving primarily Black and Hispanic students provided the least access to face-to-face learning last year. We suspect that less access to face-to-face learning has contributed to lower levels of interaction among Black and Hispanic students.”
At Chicago Public Schools, 30% of students were absent regularly last year, ISBE data shows. Isolated by demographic group, 41% of Black students at CPS were chronically absent, followed by 38% of students under an Individualized Education Program, or IEP.
Chronic truancy – students missing at least 5% of school days without a valid excuse – hit 22% statewide last year and 42% across CPS. Nearly 56% of CPS Black students, just under 51% of IEP students, and nearly 40% of the district’s Hispanic students reported persistent truancy.
“Our students, parents, staff and community have demonstrated incredible resilience and endurance and continued to make academic progress, even during an extremely challenging school year. “, a CPS spokesperson said in a statement, warning not to draw conclusions from state data, and noting “it’s a snapshot in time when the population we serve has been impacted.” disproportionately by the pandemic.”
One bright spot on the Illinois Report Card: Advanced Placement Course participation increased last year compared with the previous year.
But two metrics that ISBE uses to determine college and career readiness have seen dramatic declines. The percentage of 9th graders on track to graduate – students earning at least 5 full-year credits and no more than an F – fell to 82.2% statewide last year from the previous year. pandemic, which marked a 5.1% drop as the ISBE said increased slippage. 8th graders pass Algebra 1, a course that ISBE calls “the gateway to higher-level math and science courses” that allows students to take more advanced courses that are often a prerequisite for entry-level courses. STEM majors, fell to 28.8% last year. This is down 5.9%, again due to more students failing grades than two years ago.
“There is a huge divide in digital access, and we think a large part of our gaps that we see in student achievement, are largely due to access,” said Dixon. Dixon said, noting that some school districts in the state still don’t have enough technology or broadband access to keep students engaged in the distance learning process.
ISBE’s message after analyzing these figures from a school year that more than 90% of Illinois public school students begin without face-to-face education? There is no substitute for being physically in the classroom.
“You can’t replace teachers with computers. You can’t replace teachers with Zoom,” Dixon said. “I don’t think there’s anything you can replace a classroom teacher with that will be as effective.”
Illinois Report Card Data can be found here.
https://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/public-school-attendance-academic-achievement-dropped-sharply-last-year-amid-remote-learning/2662265/ Public School Attendance, Academic Achievement Drops Big Last Year Between Distance Learning – NBC Chicago