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Jhe State Board of Education heard Wednesday about a new study assessing what the state’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) calls “the impact of wasted instructional time” on North Carolina students. due to COVID-19.
The study found impact in almost all subjects. Michael Maher, executive director of the Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration at DPI, stressed that only COVID-19 was responsible for the results. He said most of the students made progress. It was just slower during the pandemic than it normally would have been.
Students who attended school in person where “specific and targeted resources and supports” were in place fared better than those who stayed totally remote.
“These results are critical to understanding how we continue to work toward recovery and acceleration across the state,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said in a news release.
Unlike many studies that compare student performance before the pandemic to current student performance, this study projected student performance if COVID-19 had never happened. Maher and his team then compared this with the actual performance of these same students.
According to the report, the only subject where the impact of COVID-19 was not felt was English II. And student results have been particularly impacted in mathematics.
In the graphs below, zero means that the students did as well as expected. Bars going to the left indicate negative performance (worse than expected). The further to the left, the worse the performance. Bars going to the right indicate positive performance (better than expected). The further to the right, the better the performance.
The study found that the learning of male students was no more impacted by the pandemic than that of female students “despite early predictions”. The report states that “because women outperform men in a ‘typical year,’ women are further from what we might have expected in the absence of the pandemic.”
The report says that during the pandemic, students of all races and ethnicities have performed less well than expected and that existing disparities have been exacerbated.
Likewise, the gap between students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and other students has widened. This is especially true in fifth and sixth grade mathematics.
The study also found a negative impact of COVID-19 on gifted students “despite early predictions.” This was especially true in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade math.
Less impact was found on students with disabilities, and the study found that they exceeded expectations in sixth grade reading, eighth grade reading and English II.
The same is true for English learners, with better-than-expected performance in Grade 8 Reading, English II and Math 3.
Regarding the difference in performance between students in charter schools and those in traditional public schools, the study found “small differences” that “did not warrant further disaggregation.”
Maher and his team highlighted some key takeaways from the data, including the need for reliable high-speed internet in student homes, the benefits of in-person learning, and the importance of focusing resources and interventions on the students most affected by the pandemic. and in the grades and subjects where students were most affected.
Maher said the analysis is the first of its kind in the state and “one of the first, if not the first, nationally.”
Truitt said in a press release that these resources will help educators as they move forward.
“This preliminary report will help us identify students in North Carolina who need additional supports and allow us to better target resources to specific levels and content areas. This data is a significant step forward in our work to identify challenges so we can continue to develop and support district-run interventions that accelerate student learning,” said Truitt.
State Council Chairman Eric Davis said in the press release that these findings highlight strategies already adopted by the Council.
“Before the pandemic, the state’s strategic public education plan called for closing opportunity gaps, targeting resources and supports, and increasing the number of adults in our classrooms to increase personal interactions with students,” he said. “While all students have been affected by COVID, our students who were most affected before the pandemic are most affected by COVID. This preliminary report reinforces the urgency for our state to take bold and aggressive action to accelerate the educational success of our students.
The report will be forwarded to the General Assembly. The Office of Learning and Recovery intends this to be the first of many levels of analysis of data related to the pandemic. Maher said during last week’s webinar that the next phase will be to work with districts on their data so they can focus recovery work on students “disproportionately impacted” by the pandemic.
Read the full report here.
Read the key findings here.
Read the study FAQs here.
See the presentation below.
SBE Presentation on Learning Loss of EducationNC
This article first appeared on EducationNC and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.