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Assessments for La Crosse’s youngest students lower during COVID

Rick Solem

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Students and teachers have been put through a lot over the past year.

Some assessment percentages presented to the La Crosse School Board last night show it.

Achievement gap data presented at Monday night’s meeting shows some low scores for the youngest students.

Assessments from last fall and winter in both Math and ELA (English Language Arts) for kindergarteners and first graders are lower than previous years.

“There are some reliability issues that go with doing an assessment in a virtual way for the very first time, where the students are at home,” Dr. Michael Lichucki, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment with the school district, said. “Some of that data might reflect that a little bit. So I am really interested in seeing the spring-to-spring comparisons.”

Scores from the last four years (2016-2019) in kindergarten have averaged 78.7% — 77.3% for fall and 77.5% in winter. In fall-winter of 2020, those scores averaged 54.5 (Fall: 53, Winter: 56).

“A curious aspect of the data, if you look at the fall of 2020, when we gave this assessment, we were at 53 percent,” Lichucki said. “So these are new students to the school district of La Crosse for the most part. And to see a lower score there, proportionately compared to some of the other fall scores, is interesting to me, and makes me think or believe the testing environment may have something to do with it. Although, it’s likely not a sole factor.”

For first graders, the numbers are much more erratic. For fall between 2016-19, the ELA score averaged 78.5. In 2020, it was 63.

In winter, the four-year average was 48.3. In 2020 it was 37.

Math scores only had data for kindergarteners the past five years. Those scores between 2016-2019 averaged 88.1 — 90.5 for fall and 88.3 for winter. In 2020, they were 76 — both for fall and winter.

“Some of that might be a new cohort of kindergarten students, some of that might be giving the letter sound assessment to a kindergartener student in a virtual format,” Lichucki said.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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