By Brigitte Blom
Chairman and CEO of the Prichard Committee
Last week, the Kentucky Department of Education released the results of the 2021 student assessments. As expected, COVID has had a huge impact on student learning:
- Almost 60% of elementary students who participated in the reading assessment do not meet grade standards;
- Almost 70% of college students who took the math assessment do not meet grade level standards; and
- Only 30% of high school students met the University of Kentucky readiness test in math.
In media interviews last week, I made it clear that the results are not a judgment on our districts or our educators doing all they can do in an amazing environment. That said, the findings reflect the impact of COVID on student learning and, therefore, constitute an important set of measures that must serve as an urgent call to action.
We have long argued that state assessments are not a measure to punish schools, educators or students, but a tool to provide data on student performance so that administrators, policy makers and communities can make informed decisions about improving educational outcomes. This position has never been more important than it is today.
Ignoring the results of Kentucky’s summative evaluations could have dire consequences for the future of our state. If the 60% of elementary school students who are late in reading never achieve fluency, their understanding of other important subjects like science and social studies will also drop, and their chances of succeeding in college courses. or vocational training after secondary school is weak. This will have an impact on the number of professionals – healthcare workers, teachers, law enforcement and the general workforce that we rely on to keep our economy functioning and growing.
Now is the time for communities to come together and share the development of a new normal – one that responds to the needs increased by the pandemic – such as mental health and early childhood – and expands innovations that have shown promise. A new normal It also means that we are listening carefully to the needs of parents and students now, as we are all still balancing a safe life against COVID and a new normal in our own lives and communities. Our public education system must meet these needs in new and innovative ways to remain relevant and deliver on the promise of public education.
Fortunately, there is ample funding available to help strengthen learning. The US bailout has provided $ 2.4 billion for COVID recovery in Kentucky schools. Additionally, Kentucky counties received a total of $ 1.15 billion and cities received $ 751.5 million. Together, these dollars can be spent on community solutions – such as after-school learning programs – that will really help our students catch up.
With this unprecedented federal investment in our school districts and local municipalities, I urge local communities to ask leaders how they are collaborating across government sectors at the local level, involving community organizations and local leaders, and using data to develop and evaluate local plans to learn recovery from COVID and set a new standard for public education. Education IS how we improve the quality of life and local economies.
Learn COVID Recovery is everyone’s business.
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