Students walking

Student growth and achievement fell year-over-year in 2020 in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD due to the impact of COVID-19, while remaining higher than the national average. 

Patty Parker, CFBISD’s director of research, testing and accountability, informed the district’s Board of Trustees on Jan. 14 that grades 3-7 all saw declines in math MAP testing scores in 2020 when compared to 2019. 

The largest drop was in sixth grade, with the average MAP math score falling to 53 from 77. The national average for math in grade 6 was 49. 

Grade 3 saw a decline of 11 points from 68 to 57, grade 4’s score fell to 59 from 71, grade 5 reported a decline to 61 from 75 and grade 7’s scores fell to 49 from 66. 

“We recognize that our classrooms look very different this year than they ever had in the past. But we felt it was very important to keep certain aspects of the learning process consistent, and one of those was MAP testing,” Parker said. 

Shashawn Campbell, coordinator of assessment student learning, said MAP testing is the measure of academic progress. All students in from kindergarten to ninth grade take the test three times per year in reading, language arts, math and science. 

Campbell added the test adjusts as students take it, determining what material they are ready to learn. 

Parker said the school closures in spring 2020 were disruptive, but without data, the district won’t know the true impact of COVID-19 on student learning. She added more than 4 million students in the U.S. in grades 3-8 took MAP testing in the fall. 

While CFBISD reported declines, Parker said the national average was an 8 percentile decline, with the largest fall occurring in grade 3. 

She added the fall 2020 MAP results gives the district a “starting point” and the district should have a better understanding of where learning gaps exist by the end of the year and from STAAR testing. 

CFBISD Director of Elementary Mathematics Karen Spalding said it was “no surprise” students came in underperforming with “unfinished learning” from the prior year. 

Spalding added that while the board has a goal of having the percentage of third-grade students that score “Meets” on STAAR testing go from 45% to 55% by June 2024, that number fell to 30% in fall 2020. Forty-one percent of third-grade students achieved a “Meets” score in fall 2019. 

“We knew at the beginning of the year our students were going to come to us with significant gaps in their learning,” Spalding said. “As hard as our teachers worked to make remote learning effective at the end of last year it just couldn't compare to what we could have done in a 90-minute math block when we had our students in front of us at our school.” 

The challenge presented to teachers currently is mixing new curriculum with material students missed due to COVID-19, Spalding said. She added teachers are making adjustments to focus on “essential” math curriculum, such as understanding numbers, computation skills and solving complex problems. 

“As you imagine, all of this slows us down … Our teachers feel the stress in being behind. I think it’s important to admit the only they are behind is a comparison to recent years,” she said. 

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