Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, the School District of Philadelphia required that formative assessments in reading and math be administered in all grades in all schools. The aimswebPlus assessment is required for grades K-5 and the Star assessment is required for grades 6-12. In addition, aimswebPlus is being administered to eligible special education students in grades K-8 and Star is being administered to eligible special education students in grades 6-12.
All schools began the 2020-21 school year with virtual instruction due to Covid-19 school closures. As a result, there are significant differences between the instructional experiences of students and teachers in Fall 2020 compared to Fall 2019. This report examines one aspect of the differences between Fall 2020 and Fall 2019: participation and performance on formative assessments in reading and math.
Key Findings include:
- Changes in required tests, scoring, and required grade levels had an effect on both participation and performance.
- For first grade, where the aimswebPlus reading test required for participation in Fall 2020 was also required in Fall 2019, participation levels were similar; however, the percentage of students that placed in Tier 1 (at target) was lower and in Tier 3 (intensive intervention) was higher by about 10 percentage points.
- For fourth and fifth grades, where aimswebPlus reading test requirements did not change, participation and performance levels were similar in Fall 2019 and Fall 2020, indicating that online administration did not affect participation rates for these grades.
- Star assessment requirements did not change in grades 6-8, and participation and tier performance on Star assessments in Fall 2020, administered under online learning conditions, were similar to Fall 2019 levels.
- Making Star assessments required for grades 11 and 12 increased participation and higher participation was related to changes in tier performance. However, twelfth grade students overall had low participation and performance outcomes compared to other grade levels in the 6-12 band, especially in math.