CINCINNATI — The pandemic has had a significant impact on student education. In the first year of COVID-19, test scores plummeted in Ohio and no-shows spiked. Today, early signs suggest that performance is starting to improve.
“It felt like we were playing catch-up all year to kind of meet those year-end standards,” said Juli Elder, a teacher with the local Kings School District.
Across the country, teachers have been on the front lines picking up the pieces left behind by the pandemic.
“It was like solving a puzzle and trying to figure out, where do we go back and re-teach? And how can we best help these children? said Amanda Wey, a teacher with the local Kings School District.
Across Ohio, test scores fell across all grades in the 2020-21 school year. During that year, nearly one in four students were listed as “chronically absent”, meaning they missed at least 18 days of instruction.
At Kings Local, teachers made more use of small group instruction and relied on data to track student progress. This summer, Kings Local teachers volunteered their time to work closely with Joshua’s Place, a non-profit organization that serves students in the district.
“We help families and individuals struggling with barriers that cause instability,” said Susan Simendinger, program director for local Kings Schools at Joshua’s Place.
In total, the organization serves five local school districts by providing support outside of the classroom. The nonprofit organization provides resources including tutoring and reading assistance. During the pandemic, the need for services has increased.
“We are seeing that our children have kind of fallen behind, so how can we work with schools to support them and give them more support than they have had in the past?” said Simendinger.
An Ohio Department of Education official said the pandemic had a different impact on students.
“Our most vulnerable students have had the biggest declines (in performance),” said Chris Woolard, director of programs for the Ohio Department of Education. “So students who are economically disadvantaged, students from some of our urban districts, students who have been to remote areas.”
Early analysis of state data from last fall suggests that test scores are improving. Grade 3 fall English test scores have improved significantly, but are not where they were before the pandemic.
“It’s something like a state that we’re going to watch and track,” Woolard said. “I think we expect that to have an impact for years to come.”
At Kings Local, teachers have hope.
“Last year and the year before that, we kind of smoothed everything out and got back to a routine,” Elder said. “But I feel like this year we’ll pick up where we left off.”
“It’s finally starting to come together,” teacher Heather Combs said. “So I think it’s going to be a great year.”
If you are looking for additional resources to help your children catch up before the school year, you can find several at the State Department of Education website.
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