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Student state testing scores show little to no improvement, setting a baseline for recovery

Delaware Public Media

State student testing scores from last school year show a statewide need for educational recovery from the pandemic.

Overall scores remain drastically lower than pre-pandemic levels, and while scores in some subjects are slightly higher, other subjects show a significant decrease.

Grades 3-8 averaged 42% proficiency in ELA and 30% in Math - down from 55 and 43 percent pre-pandemic, and

And SAT scores among 11th graders dropped 2 to 6% in all sections from last year – to 47% in evidence based reading and writing, 24% on math, and 38% in essay.

In science, the scores show 21 percent of fifth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 26 percent of high school biology students proficient or higher.

Social studies scores statewide, 32 percent of fourth graders, 29 percent of seventh graders and 24 percent of 11th graders scored at or above proficiency.

Across the board, Hispanic and African American students score significantly lower than their white and Asian American peers. Data also shows vast disparities between school districts, for example 11th grade math scores ranked as high as 37% in the Red Clay School District and as low as 5% in Seaford.

Theresa Bennett, director of the Office of Assessment for the Department of Education, said these scores are a baseline for recovery.

“Our students that are in that two range, that yellow range, are students that will benefit from an intervention," she said. "They'll benefit from tier one instruction, which is that classroom instruction using high quality instructional materials. So just really strong instruction will help these kids move into that proficiency area.”

Bennett also notes that a large number of students are missing from last years data set due to the pandemic, and an unusually low amount of students actually participated in state testing.

“A large number were virtual and did not come due to the pandemic. So we have much lower numbers for ethnicity and subgroups, certain ones last year than we do this year. We have more than this year, but again, when you're doing that comparison, you just have to be careful. Sometimes, especially the proficiency bars for these subgroups, looked better last year, but we were missing a large number of students.”

In grades 3-8, average scores showed slight improvement, but English language learners, low income, and students with disabilities scored less than half of the state’s average proficiency levels.

Similarly, subgroups scored less than half of average, except for low-income students in reading and writing and essay.

The full data set can be viewed at

“Providing educational opportunities this summer has been a priority because we know students are continuing to recover from pandemic-related unfinished learning,” Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said in a statement. “Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, and our educators are committed to continuing to meet students where they are to provide them the support and learning time they need to succeed.”

Some of the highest and lowest scores came from the Red Clay School District, 11th grade SAT ELA scores at Cab Calloway School of the Arts were almost 85%, and just 16% at McKean High School.

This is the first year that Delaware has moved away from a pencil and paper SAT exam to online testing.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.