Montana test scores still below pre-pandemic levels, but some improvements

Posted at 6:02 PM, Sep 12, 2023

HELENA — The Office of Public Instruction has released the Montana state assessment results for the 2022-2023 school year.

The summative Math, Reading, or English Language Arts (ELA), assessments for grades 3-8 and 11 are required through the Every Student Succeeds Act(ESSA).

Reading and math proficiency for third through eighth-grade Montana students stayed about the same compared to the previous assessment.

For those grades, reading proficiency dropped from 46% to 45% and math proficiency increased from 36.5% to 37.5%.

In 2019, Montana third through eighth-grade students were 50% proficient in reading and 41.9% proficient in math.

The federal government requires 95% participation for the summative assessment. In the 2022-2023 school year, 98.5% of 3-8 grade students participated in the Reading assessment and 98.2% of 3-8 grade students participated in the Math assessment.

“From the pandemic of three years ago go the students that are now taking the test a lot has happened and I call it recovery, they did a lot of recovery, but I am very worried about our little ones,” said Elsie Arntzen, the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction.

11th graders increased their English, language and arts ACT scores by over 10%, to 53% of students proficient in this assessment compared to last time. Those students also saw ACT math proficiency go up 5% compared to last year with 30.3% proficient this year.

During the 2022-2023 school year 92% of high school juniors completed the ELA portion of the ACT and 93.4% completed the Math portion. The average score for Montana was 19.4. Traditionally the national ACT college readiness average has been 22 out of a maximum of 36.

Arntzen is optimistic about the growth that was seen, although she would like to see greater improvements.

“We’re also in our third year after the pandemic so we’re really reflecting on where we were prior to the pandemic as well as to last year’s scores to see if we’ve really recovered,” Arntzen said.