USBE background on Utah student achievement data

In a typical year, September is the month where the Utah State Board of Education releases the student achievement results from the prior year’s state assessments. While this year is again, atypical in many ways, I am happy to provide you with an update regarding the release of the 2020-2021 RISE & Utah Aspire Plus assessment results. In the attached document you will find a link to the Opportunity to Learn Dashboard as well as aggregate student participation rate data for the RISE and Utah Aspire Plus assessments. You will also find reference to a set of studies the State Board of Education is engaged in to better understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on student achievement. This work is scheduled to be completed in October and reviewed during the Board’s November meeting. Below is a description of that project. 

Project Overview

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) is conducting a comprehensive set of studies to help understand the effects of pandemic-related disruptions on students’ academic performance. The purpose of these studies is to:

  • document overall trends in participation and achievement,
  • identify districts, schools, and student groups most affected by the disruptions,
  • document the influence of the pandemic on already-existing achievement gaps, and
  • explore how opportunity-to-learn and other related information interact with the academic outcomes indicated above. 

The USBE will provide a report that describes the methods and analyses used, summarizes the results, and outlines conclusions and recommendations from the studies. In our analyses and reports, we adhere to the maximum: “Description before inference; inference before evaluation.” In other words, because there are so many unknowns this school year, we first must closely examine who participated in instruction and assessment this year before trying to compare performance across years, schools, and districts. This multi-layered approach will allow USBE to address the overarching question of, “To what extent have pandemic related disruptions influenced student achievement?”

In addition to this analysis and subsequent public report, the Board will release the 2020-2021 student achievement data through the Data Gateway, once the analysis has been completed.