I-Team: New Ohio numbers reveal concerns about learning during pandemic

New numbers released by the Ohio Department of Education reveal concerns about student progress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state released new data Wednesday titled, “How the Pandemic is Affecting the 2020-2021 school year.” The report includes concerns about attendance, test scores, and a divide in students impacted most during the pandemic.

Across the board on testing, the state said, “Scores are generally lower than past years.” On Fall 2020 third grade proficiency tests, proficiency rates were down approximately eight percentage points compared to 2019. More than 87 percent of Ohio school districts saw a decrease in their percent of students scoring proficient or higher from 2019 to 2020, according to the report, with an average decrease of just over 9%.

The report says the declines were “more marked among student learning in district that used a fully remote education model.”

Additionally, the numbers, the state said, “suggest the state’s most vulnerable students” have been most affected, with test scores dropping more significantly “for Black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students.”

This data from the state comes at a time when many students across Ohio have spent the better part of a year either in online or hybrid learning models. Many districts are moving toward a more regular return to the classroom, with Governor Mike DeWine incentivizing a March return to school buildings with school employee vaccines as part of Ohio’s Phase 1B.

The state education department recommends districts identify key areas of focus and concern, and work together to address those needs and concerns, and “identify a plan to address learning lags.”

The I-Team is digging into the issue of learning loss during the pandemic as part of an investigation next week on News Center 7.