United States News Montana The 'COVID slide' is real for Billings schools, fall...

The ‘COVID slide’ is real for Billings schools, fall test scores show


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“We did have some issues with attendance, and how engaged some of our online learners are,” Dereszynski said. 

There also appeared to be something of a split among those students; while many remote learners scored well, there was also a higher-than-usual percentage of students who scored poorly. 

Scores typically have some year-to-year bounce, and that’s reflected among grades levels. For example, fourth grade math scores had a 14% drop in proficiency compared to last year’s fourth graders; fifth graders had a 5% drop in proficiency compared to last year’s fifth graders. 

The district’s usual trends about income and educational outcomes have also held steady. Like schools across the country, students from low-income families generally have worse educational outcomes than higher-income peers.

For example, test scores are better at a school in Billings like Arrowhead Elementary that serves more affluent families than a school like Orchard Middle School that serves mostly low-income neighborhoods. 

There are exceptions among individual students, but the trends have held true for decades. 

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Upham has talked repeatedly about trying to squirrel away COVID-19 stimulus funding to address pandemic-related learning loss. Part of the reluctance of wanting to use the money earlier was to measure learning loss and target students who need help. 

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