By Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Student scores in Salt Lake City elementary schools are down while youngsters attend school online during the coronavirus pandemic.

The percentage of students scoring below grade level in one or more subjects is up from 23% in 2019 to 32% this year, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The newspaper arrived at those figures after obtaining first trimester grades through a public records request filed with the Salt Lake City School District.

Students scored lowest for reading and writing, where around 40% of elementary kids are now scoring below standard. Student proficiency fell the most in science, however.

Sixth graders scored worst as a group.

“Certainly we anticipated some of this slide,” school district administrator Holley McIntosh said. “We worry, though, about any trend that might show our students are not meeting their goals.”

Similar declines during the pandemic have occurred across districts in Salt Lake County including Granite School District, where students may attend school either in person or online. Most failing students in Granite School District had chosen to take virtual courses.

Salt Lake City is the only district in the state to require all students to stay home for instruction this fall. Junior high and high school students in Salt Lake City have received about twice as many F grades so far this academic year.

Elementary students, who are graded somewhat differently than older students, saw their rate triple.

“There’s definitely different challenges with online teaching in the younger grades,” McIntosh said.

The school board has voted to allow elementary students to return to in-person school in January.

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