EXCLUSIVE: CA Superintendent Tony Thurmond addresses declining student test scores

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Monday, October 24, 2022
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The eagerly-awaited results of California's first standardized test scores since the COVID-19 pandemic came out on Monday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The eagerly-awaited results of California's first standardized test scores since the COVID-19 pandemic came out on Monday.

The scores show big drops in both math and English skills.

In 2019, results for math showed 40% of students testing "proficient or above." In 2022, only 33% of students tested proficient, which is a drop of 7%.

English scores in 2019 showed 51% of learners testing "proficient or above. This year, only 47%, a drop of 4%.

Two out of three California students did not meet state math standards, and more than half did not meet English standards, the Los Angeles Times reported. The numbers were worse for students of color, as 84% of Black students and 79% of Latino students did not meet math standards in 2022.

The test scores highlighted the widespread impacts of the pandemic, with traditionally underserved students facing the biggest challenges.

"It's understandable that people would be upset," said California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to ABC7's Kristen Sze. "You know, I would only ask people think about two things. One, the context in which this happened, that we were dealing with a worldwide pandemic."

Math and reading scores have dropped significantly across the country since the pandemic. For California, the numbers underscore what was already troubling trend before the pandemic, when 60% of students were testing below grade level in math and nearly half in English.

Superintendent Thurmond says during the pandemic, California has put together major resources to help students bounce back. He says education leaders are most focused on how students are going to bounce back academically going forward.

RELATED: California schools securing 1 million devices to help close digital divide, state superintendent teases

In comparison to other states, Thurmond says California has "suffered less" and says, "I don't think there's anything to celebrate here. There's loss for everyone."

"It seems that students all across the country, experience some learning gaps and so we've got work to do to accelerate learning. There are a few bright spots that I think that we can study and see how California is putting more money into tutoring into professional learning into great, you know, resources for schools to bounce back. And so I think that's where the focus has to be."

He also addresses funding for after school programs, learning recovery and students' mental health.

In an exclusive TV interview, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond spoke with ABC7 News Anchor Kristen Sze on our weekday 3 p.m. program, "Getting Answers."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Watch the video player above for the full interview.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live