OHIO — The Ohio Department of Education released its annual report card on Thursday with results: Achievement dropped for students in the 2020-21 school year compared to 2018-19. 

The state also noted a rise in chronic absenteeism during the 2020-21 school year. 

While the state typically releases grades and ratings at the district level, due to the pandemic, Ohio opted not to release this drilled-down data. The state released some limited data at the district level. 

Here is an overview of the data:

  • Academic performance for all students dropped in 2020-21 compared to 2018-19. The state noted a more pronounced drop in spring assessment results among historically underserved students. 
  • Enrollment decreased statewide by 53,000 students, or 3%. Of the 53,000 students, there was a 25,000-student drop in the number of prekindergarten and kindergarten students in 2020-21, suggesting some parents delayed sending their children to school. Also, 18,000 more students were homeschooled last school year, resulting in a 55% increase in homeschoolers. 
  • There was a considerable rise in chronic absenteeism, which is defined by 18 days of absences during a school year. In 2020-21, 24% of students were chronically absent, compared to 16.7% in 2018-19. 
  • Despite the pandemic, Ohio’s Prepared for Success rate held steady. According to the Department of Education, the Prepared for Success component looks at how well prepared Ohio’s students are for future opportunities..

The state noted that the number of schools that were hybrid or fully remote significantly dropped last spring compared to the fall and winter portions of the 2020-21 school year.

In the fall, 56.2% of schools were operating five days a week. By winter 54.4% were open five days. In the spring, 76.9% were operating five days a week and just 2% were fully remote.

“From analyzing the data, it is clear that at all grade levels, the decrease in learning was more pronounced among students in districts that primarily used fully remote or hybrid education delivery models,” the state Department of Education said in its report card. “However, it’s important to remember the 2020-2021 school year did not present perfect conditions for remote education. Students, families and educators faced a wide array of challenges while trying to quickly adjust to teaching and learning through education delivery models that were entirely new to many.

“While Ohio-specific and national research suggests students learning through remote-education models faced greater challenges in learning during 2020-2021, long-term, remote learning can represent an effective tool in developing flexible and personalized learning opportunities for students.”