Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

The Connecticut Education Department assessment data from last year shows that student achievement still lags pre-pandemic levels. 

The Performance Index shows that student achievement is still below the three most recent pre-pandemic years. Students are performing about 6 to 8 percentage points below where they were in English and math and 4 points below where they were in science. 

Education officials estimated that students in fourth and fifth grade may be two or three months behind where they might be if there hadn’t been a pandemic, which forced kids into quarantine. But not all hope is lost. 

Officials believe students will be able to catch up this year, which will be the first full year in school following two years of on-again, off-again in-school learning. 

“The rates of academic growth will need to increase substantially in the coming months and years to shorten the recovery period,” officials said in a press release. 

In order to track the progress, the Education Department created a Pandemic Recovery dashboard on its EdSight website. This dashboard compares how the Performance Index in 2021-22 has changed from 2018-19. 

“While there is still a lot of work to do, it is heartening to see some signs of academic success despite two unusually challenging school years for educators, students, and their school communities,” Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said. “As students return to classrooms this fall, we remain committed to working with district and school leaders who are considering these results with other sources of information, which must include the voices of educators, students, families, and the community. Through these partnerships, we continue to work toward equitable learning recovery so that all students will thrive.”

Even though most schools returned to full-time, in-person learning in 2021-22, it was far from normal. 

Student and staff illnesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting quarantines and isolations caused significant learning disruptions. Despite those challenges, the 2021-22 results illustrate that educators in many districts and schools are counteracting the negative effects of the pandemic by implementing evidence-based and creative strategies to engage students and accelerate learning. 

The state used about $12 million on 200 summer programs to help students continue learning this summer. 

The state has also made mental health a top priority and the General Assembly approved $28 million to implement grant programs that will support districts to add additional school mental health staff, including, but not limited to school social workers, school psychologists, trauma specialists, board certified behavior analysts, school counselors, and nurses.

They are also supporting 45 afterschool programs with $8.7 million and more than $18 million to help special education students.