School districts developing recovery plans without standardized testing data

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont schools have just over a month to assess how the pandemic has impacted students and set a course for addressing what was lost. But they’ll be making those recovery plans without the aid of standardized tests, which were canceled earlier this year.

The Annual Snapshot of Vermont education provides a wealth of data on students’ performance in subjects including English, reading, math, science, and physical education -- but not for the past year. That’s because standardized tests to measure those areas were not given during the pandemic.

Patrick Halladay, the director of the education quality division at the Vermont Agency of Education, says this is usually the headline maker, but schools won’t have those metrics to help determine learning loss during the pandemic. He says sometimes there is an over-reliance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests, and districts still have other methods to make their recovery plans. “It will make it different and it will make it a little challenging. I also think there is an opportunity in there, because every school also has a local comprehensive assessment program,” Halladay said.

Superintendents like Bev Davis at the Orleans Central Supervisory Union, are busy developing their final recovery plans by the June 1st deadline. The plans must assess gaps in academic achievement, getting kids physically back in school, and the impacts the pandemic has had on social and emotional health. “There’s definitely stressors, there are definitely things that need work, but it’s not as bad as it could have been,” she said.

Davis says overall, it has not been hard to determine what the students need in her district because they have primarily been in-person during the pandemic. To address learning loss, she’s looking at the possibility of summer programs. With grant money available and about half a dozen interested teachers, it may be part of the recovery plan. “We’ll be having an initial planning meeting here to see what that can look like and what we can offer to families,” she said.

While the snapshot is missing some key metrics, the report does have other results that education officials find concerning, including drops in English learner proficiency, equity gaps for college prep, and teacher retention rates.

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