Midyear test scores show Duval County elementary students performed better in virtual format

Results attributed to parental assistance of young students learning at home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the data collected from midyear progress monitoring assessments within Duval County Public Schools, elementary school students -- particularly those in kindergarten through third grade -- appeared to perform better in the district’s virtual learning platform Duval HomeRoom than their counterparts in brick and mortar classrooms.

The results were presented to the DCPS board Tuesday morning by Corey Wright, who serves as the district’s assistant superintendent of accountability & assessment.

The information was aggregated from a series of assessments for different grade level segments including the first two of three progress monitoring assessments (PMA).

LINK: Midyear test scores from Duval County Public Schools

According to the data, students in kindergarten through third grade who were studying in the district’s virtual format Duval HomeRoom outperformed those studying in-person.

This screenshot from a DCPS report shows K-3 virtual learners outperformed brick-and-mortar students in reading PMAs. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“To some extent, that may be because parents unintentionally help students through the login process and maybe they define a word for a student when they’re sitting there in the other room,” Wright said. “The student says, ‘I don’t know what this means,’ and the parent thinks that’s innocent, but it really may skew the data in some ways.”

The trend appears to level off in the upper grade levels, with virtual students and in-person students testing more and more consistently with each other.

One main area of academic concern, according to Wright, is mathematics, the subject that appears to carry the most profound learning loss.

“It’s really evident that our students aren’t performing as well as they have in previous years on the math assessments,” Wright said. “We’re seeing a decline in this group of students, and I think that is because math really builds upon itself and you have to know the prerequisites before moving forward.”

Wright suggests that the learning gap in the Spring 2020 semester, which forced school districts to abruptly pivot to online learning, was the catalyst that eventually led to lower test scores in the fall.

“Students missing school and having to adjust to online learning and not having the daily interaction with peers and teachers and small group instruction truly has impacted students in learning math, and we’re trying to just catch them up,” Wright said.

Wright and DCPS Chief of Academic Sciences Paula Renfro joined us on The Morning Show on Friday to talk more about the assessments and what they reveal about the district’s students -- and what’s next. Watch their interview below:

The third and final PMAs for the 2020-2021 school year are set to begin Monday.

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