Test Data Shows Impact of Pandemic-Related Learning Loss
Sept. 3, 2021 – As with other district across the state and nation, Guilford County Schools is reporting significant declines in student proficiency as measured by end-of-grade and end-of-course testing for the 2020-21 school year. Overall proficiency levels for the district dropped from 55.1 percent proficient in 2019, the last year tests were given, to 42.4 percent proficient in 2021, a decrease of 12.7 percentage points.
The data, which was released Wednesday in conjunction with the State Board of Education meeting, shows double-digit declines in most tested areas. North Carolina was granted a waiver this year from test accountability and school performance grades, but districts were still required to administer the tests, to help assess the extent of the learning loss and to target resources and supports to schools.
Losses were prevalent across the state, but GCS ranked higher than most other large districts. Only Wake County Public School System showed a smaller drop in proficiency at 9.8 percentage points among the largest districts in the state. Statewide, the proficiency rate dropped 13.4 percentage points.
“This data reinforces the importance of ensuring that our students and staff remain healthy so that we can keep all students engaged in in-person learning to the fullest extent possible,” says Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras. “This recovery process will not happen overnight, and we will continue using proven strategies such as high-dosage tutoring to meet students where they are and help them get back on track.”
Math scores were the hardest hit, with proficiency drops between 10.5 and 18.6 percentage points from 2019. In anticipation, GCS has been working with college and advanced high school students to provide math tutors for students since this past spring.
High-dosage tutoring is one of several measures GCS is taking to help students begin to recover from the struggles of hybrid and remote learning over the past 18 months. The district also engaged more than 14,000 students in summer learning at nearly all district schools and revamped school calendars to increase instructional time and add professional development for teachers at 23 of the district’s lowest-performing schools.
In contrast, scores for reading and English II were better, with only a 3.5 percentage point drop in English II scores overall. At the elementary and middle school level, scores in reading fell between 7.1 and 17.7 percentage points. Science scores were mixed, with scores in grade 5 and Biology dropping slightly more than 16 percentage points each, and grade 8 science scores falling 6.2 percentage points.
GCS also had two schools that led the state in successfully meeting expectations. At Brown Summit Middle and the Early College at Guilford, more than 95 percent of students earned scores that showed grade-level proficiency.
The state also released graduation rate data, a bright spot for Guilford County Schools. The district reached a record-high graduation rate of 91.4 percent, including 12 schools with 100 percent graduation rates. Ten other school reported graduation rates of at or above 90 percent, including Northwest High, which had the district’s largest graduating class of 479 students and a 98.4 percent graduation rate.
“We are extremely proud to have achieved a record-breaking graduation rate, thanks to our learning hubs, our 5th Quarter summer program, the extra counselors in place at schools with lower graduation rates and the tireless efforts of principals and staff to stay connected to students during the pandemic,” says Contreras.
Demographic subgroups showed a significant increase in graduation rates as well, with an increase of four percentage points among Asian students and an increase of more than two percentage points among Black and Hispanic students.