New study on NC test scores shows remote learning results in greater academic loss | WFAE 90.7
The most detailed analysis of North Carolina’s pandemic learning loss confirmed that the more time students spent in remote learning last year, the more ground they lost academically.
“Our biggest takeaway is that the majority of students need regular interaction and direct personal engagement with their principals, teachers, and peers,” research director Jeni Corn told the State Board on Wednesday. of Education.
This echoes what WFAE reported in November, after looking at pre- and post-pandemic results for several Charlotte-area districts. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where students have spent most of the past year in virtual classes, saw their scores drop more than surrounding districts that held more in-person classes.
The WFAE series was based on comparing changes in proficiency levels between 2019, the last year of testing before the pandemic, and 2021, when standardized testing resumed.
New state learning loss study starts with scores from 2018 and projects how each student should score three years later under normal circumstances. He used a formula developed by the Cary-based SAS, which tallies school growth rates and value-added numbers for teachers for the state. The discrepancy between projected and actual scores was used to assess the impact of disrupted learning during the pandemic.
“This is the first comprehensive and authoritative statewide summary of the impact of the pandemic on student learning for all North Carolina public school students,” said Michael Maher. , executive director of the state’s Office of Learning Recovery. “This analysis is the first of its kind in the state. It is one of the first at the national level.
Some results seem obvious
In many ways, the new study confirms what has been clear for The 2021 results are out September: All students experienced setbacks, and often the losses were greatest for disadvantaged groups before COVID-19 hit.
The researchers did not convert their statistical results into months of lost learning, as they explained in an overview for journalists. Maher told the board they would do so this year, but declined to elaborate.
A graph shows that when all test subjects are combined, black, Native American and multiracial students in North Carolina fell solidly into a level that Maher described as “high impact.” White and Hispanic students were close to the line between large and medium impact, while Asian students recorded the smallest impact.
Another breakdown shows that economically disadvantaged students, who started at lower skill levels than students who do not come from low-income homes, have fallen further behind during the pandemic. The amount of ground lost varied by grade level and subject.
And Corn told the council that students in schools that reported high levels of high-speed internet access at home generally lost less ground than those who couldn’t log on for remote lessons.
A few surprises
But some of the results seemed counterintuitive. For example, academically gifted students were more affected than students who were not classified as gifted, while students with disabilities and English learners fared better than their counterparts who lacked these labels.
Corn said that’s because the study looked at how scores were lower than projected performance, not skill. The projections would have been lower for students with significant challenges and higher for academically gifted students.
This was also evident in gender comparisons, where girls experienced greater losses than boys in several subjects.
“A lot of us heard early on that our boys were going to be a lot more late because they were having a lot more trouble concentrating alone at home,” Corn said. “Our statewide data did not support this. Because women outnumber men in a typical year, women are further from what we might have expected in the absence of the pandemic.
Pandemic versus politics
Maher stressed that the study is designed to measure the impact of the pandemic and help chart the course for recovery, not to assign blame. For example, he identified the subjects where the losses were the greatest, such as reading in elementary school and mathematics in middle school.
“It’s not on the backs of teachers, principals, superintendents,” he told the council. “There’s nothing any of them could have done at the height of this pandemic to change those results.”
But as the pandemic progressed, superintendents and school boards made decisions about when and how to restore in-person classes. These decisions, which became increasingly controversial as the year progressed, took into account not only academic needs, but also the risk of spreading a virus that could have seriously ill or killed staff, students and vulnerable family members.
At Wednesday’s board meeting, there was little discussion of the split, showing that more in-person time has helped cushion academic losses.
A graph that was not presented at the board meeting shows that, overall, students in charter schools had lower losses than students in North Carolina school districts. Charter schools, which are run by independent boards and rely on family membership, have often quickly returned to in-person instruction.
Maher said school districts and charter schools will have access to their own data, but those breakdowns were not presented in Wednesday’s report. He said more updates will be coming this year and the follow-up will continue for years to come.
“The recovery won’t be over in May,” Maher said. “It probably won’t be over by next May.”
Department of Public Instruction spokesman Blair Rhodes said Wednesday afternoon that the state has yet to decide how and when to make the blackouts public, but expects to hear more “in the near future.” coming weeks”.