CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A year of social distancing, quarantining, and computer classrooms has left a major impact on education. While experts feared learning loss, preliminary data is now in to back up those fears.
The Berkeley County School District just completed its Reading and Math Inventory tests. A multiple-choice assessment administered multiple times a year to high school freshmen and sophomores.
“It’s a diagnostic tool,” said Dr. Mathis Burnette who is the academy coach at Stratford High School. “The goal is to improve instruction with data. You get a quantile score and a lexile score. Ultimately what you want to get to is where is this student now and versus where do we take them.”
While Burnette does not see the full district-wide test results, he has seen the data from his school.
“There was a drop off. Kids where we would expect to be upwards of a 1200 lexile are down near 1000. What we are hoping is we will be able to catch them back up,” Burnette said. “We have some significant ground to make up. I don’t want to give a specific number. I can’t say they lost a year or two years because it is super personalized.”
High school senior and student body president at Berkeley High School Sterling Jenkins says she is not surprised by data that suggests learning was more difficult this year.
Jenkins is a hard-working student but says it can be difficult to be self-motivated in the comfort of your own home and away from the pressures of a classroom.
“I haven’t learned anything. I am just doing the work, but I am not really getting anything out of it,” Jenkins said. “Most kids don’t have an office space. You are just in your bed with the computer on. Most kids are just going to roll back over and go back to sleep and have the volume up just enough so if the teacher calls their name they can say here.”
Of course, BCSD is not alone. In October, Charleston County School District officials said some students are two years behind where they should be, and across the state more students than usual could be held back.
Burnette says the Reading and Math Inventory tests are an excellent way to monitor growth and make changes before it’s too late. The tests are given at the beginning and end of each semester which allows teachers to figure out who needs more attention.
“The more information you have as a teacher, the better you can guide your instruction,” Burnette said. “We did notice that especially our freshmen were picking up steam from the first semester to the second semester.”
Jenkins, who is graduating this year, has her work cut out for her. She says she has some concerns about moving on to high education having potentially missed out on important instruction.
“Next year most of us will go to college. We are going to be able to be back in the classroom again and we won’t be able to breeze by with work,” Jenkins said. “I am quite concerned.”
Dorchester District Two is administering the Reading and Math Inventory tests this week.