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GCS Students Show Decline in Academic Performance

Results from several assessments taken over the past few months are in and Guilford County Schools (GCS) is seeing the toll the pandemic and the upheaval of education as we know it is having on assessment scores and grades for students.

“We have been saying for months and have presented data showing that students learning remotely are not nearly as proficient as those learning in-person. The more data we receive, the more this is confirmed,” said Whitney Oakley, GCS chief academic officer.

The overall consensus indicates students who have been in in-person classes the longest have performed at a higher level compared to counterparts who have not had face-to-face instruction.

The Istation K-3rd Grade Reading Assessment was given remotely in September and 80% of kindergarteners, first, second and third graders completed the assessment. Remote testing conditions are less controlled, likely affecting and inflating students’ scores.  The assessment indicated 60.8% of GCS K-3rd graders demonstrated being on track to meet year-end expectations. This is just slightly below the state average of 63%.

Preliminary results for the NWEA MAP Growth Assessment, which students began taking in early December, show that 44% of K-2nd graders scored average or above average in reading. Kindergarteners, who at that point had five weeks of in-person instruction had the highest rate, with nearly half (49%) scoring average or above average in reading. 

On the NWEA MAP Growth Assessment for math, preliminary results show that 38% of K-2 students scored average or above average. Once again, kindergarteners, who had five additional weeks of in-person instruction up to that point had the highest rate of students scoring average or above average in math with 51%. Overall, kindergarteners scored at least 17 percentage points better in math than first or second graders.

Fall End of Course (EOC) test scores and participation were down across all subjects. Participation was down by as much as 30.1% in the fall because the state of North Carolina still required students to come into the building to take their assessments. Many students chose to opt out of testing during this administration for various reasons. Only block high school students take fall EOCs. Traditional high schools take all of their EOCs in the Spring. In terms of performance, the largest performance decline from last fall to this fall was in Math I with a decline of 18.7 percentage points, while the smallest performance decline was in English II by 4.3 percentage points. GCS students declined in Math 3 performance by 13 percentage points from last year and the decline in Biology was 17 percentage points.

Lastly, comparing student grades and failure rates for this year to last year shows a similar story. Students received lower grades and higher failure rates in quarter 1, quarter 2 and semester 1 this year compared to last year

You can find the full presentation here.

Taking this information into consideration the board voted to return students to the building in an accelerated phased re-entry.