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Assessment

Put Students First This Year

Each day, we’re understanding more of the lasting impact last year’s lockdowns and school closures could have on our children, both from a mental well-being and educational standpoint. Statewide assessment data released publicly on Thursday are the latest measure of how the past year has led to declining student performance in a subject we as a nation need to value more strongly: math.

Across our region, student proficiency in math dropped when compared to testing data from 2018-19, the last year for testing.

Randolph County saw math proficiency drop by 5%, as 24% of students tested countywide in the 2020-21 school year (students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 are tested) either met or exceeded the math standards, compared to 29% in 2018-19.

Upshur County saw proficiency in math go from 27% in 2018-19 to 20% in 2020-21.

Barbour County saw a 7% decrease in math proficiency, from 32% to 25% this past year, while Tucker County declined by 9% (32% proficient in 2018-19 to 21% in 2020-21) and Pocahontas County declined 6%, from 36% to 30% proficient.

Statewide, math proficiency fell from 39% in 2018-19 to 28% in 2020-21. Yes, that means that slightly more than one-quarter of tested students this past year statewide are proficient in math.

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch told state Board of Education members that the results need to be viewed in the context of a learning loss year, as students switched between in-person, remote and hybrid models during the school year.

“Of course, we have to look at the learning loss gap,” he said. “… We need to learn what the learning loss was, and it’s going to be nationwide. It’s not going to be just in West Virginia.”

Burch’s thoughts on learning loss and its long-term impact on students — particularly if this coming school year is in any way impacted similarly to the past two school years — are concerning.

He rightly has noted that this generation of young students runs the risk of missing out on learning opportunities and thus, leaving high school potentially not ready for either college or the workforce.

What’s the solution? Ensure kids stay in school this year, where they will have access to teachers and learning that just doesn’t happen via a computer screen or printed packet. We’re pleased to see that our local districts have that plan in place now, and urge them, this year, to put students first.

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