Changes in School Composition During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Jan 19, 2022
In spring 2020, as schools began remote learning or closed in response to the pandemic, end-of-year assessment programs ground to a halt. Schools began the 2020–2021 year without assessment data, which usually help with course placement. The authors of this report compare and contrast three strategies that use older test data to estimate missing scores, examining the consistency of these strategies and whether they ensure equity among students.
Guidance for Schools and Districts
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The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created an unprecedented set of obstacles for schools and exacerbated existing structural inequalities in public education. In spring 2020, as schools went to remote learning formats or closed completely, end-of-year assessment programs ground to a halt. As a result, schools began the 2020–2021 school year without student assessment data, which typically play a role in selecting students for specialized programming or placing students into courses. Although conceptual research has emerged to support school and district decisionmaking regarding assessment during the pandemic, there has been relatively little empirical research to help guide schools and school districts on handling the impacts of the pandemic on the availability and interpretability of assessment data.
To address this gap, the authors of this report provide empirical evidence to inform schools' and districts' approaches to course placement in the absence of end-of-year assessment data. The authors compare and contrast three potential strategies that use older assessment data to estimate missing test scores: simple replacement, regression-based replacement, and multiple replacement. The authors examine the ways in which the pandemic may have influenced the consistency of decisionmaking under these strategies and the extent to which these strategies work equally well for all students, regardless of student race and ethnicity or school poverty. They also discuss these strategies' implications for schools and districts.
Study Background and Context
Implications for Decisionmaking in the Absence of Large-Scale Test Scores
Data Sources for This Report
The research reported here was sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.
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