Test scores

Test scores across the region have lagged because of the altered learning environments created in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although remote learning has resulted in lower grades for some students, superintendents in the area are looking for ways to counteract that trend and improve performance.

“Under the circumstances, the students and staff are doing great with this cyber environment thrust upon them,” said Dr. Jesse Wallace, Laurel Highlands School District superintendent.

Although he didn’t have hard numbers available, Wallace said remote learning has caused students to struggle. And while the district now has in-person instruction four days a week – with one day of remote learning – there are students who are finding even that one day a difficulty.

Wallace said the district is working on programs to help students during the summer break to bring grades back up.

In Washington County, Dr. Laura Jacob, California Area School District superintendent, said officials in her district noticed an approximate 30% increase in Ds and Fs across all grades, during the period of remote learning from November to January.

Still, Jacob said there were students who did well learning online, even managing to excel in the virtual environment.

“The challenge that lies were the students who wanted to be face-to-face, but they had to be in a cyber environment,” Jacob said.

Jacob said the district made adjustments like being flexible with assignment due dates, providing additional tutoring for students and having no-cost summer-school opportunities for students who fail a class.

“We’re really, really hoping not to go down that path,” Jacob said. “It’s more of a benefit to catch students while we have them in school, rather than summer school.”

In Greene County, Fred Morecraft, Carmichaels School District superintendent, said the pandemic has been tough on everyone involved in the educational community, including teachers, students and parents.

“Looking at some of our benchmark testing, some students are lagging behind from the past years,” Morecraft said. “I think every school across the nation is seeing students falling behind.”

Morecraft said the district is using federal funds to work on some summer programming for the next two years, and implementing individualized tutoring that should remedy the slide in grades.

In the outset of virtual education, Morecraft said it was a struggle to get students online and familiar with all of the protocols that go along with online learning.

In a short time, however, Morecraft said the ability of students from all age groups who can log in remote instruction and complete lessons much like they would in a regular, in-person classroom has improved along with using other technology to learn.

“This is tough work, and we are all trying to make the best of this historical situation,” Morecraft said. “It would be fair to say that they are becoming more accustomed to virtual learning, but we still have work to do.”

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