Neenah Joint School District studies possible impact of pandemic on learning

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:26 PM CST
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - Some national studies have begun to try to determine the pandemic’s impact on learning. One Fox Valley School District did some research of its own.

After having to go through virtual learning last spring, the Neenah Joint School District wanted to try to determine how it may have impacted student learning.

“We really wanted to know were they coming in about the same, were they less proficient? More proficient? We just didn’t have an idea about that,” said Susan Hull, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

Hull says they gave a diagnostic test to all students first through eighth grade in September, comparing results to the same time last fall.

“We were really surprised and pleased that students who were proficient really were able to maintain proficiency,” said Hull.

But results found students who didn’t score proficiently last year struggled a bit more this year.

“So we saw that go down a little bit more than we’d like to see, but not as bad as we thought it could be. So we were really pleased about that as well,” said Hull.

Hull believes part of the district’s advantage was that teachers and students had already gone through some virtual learning days before, so everyone was somewhat familiar with at-home learning already.

“So when we needed to make that shift to virtual learning, it was a little bit easier and quicker,” said Hull.

This year teachers are also doing their own diagnostic assessments class by class, whether their students are in-person or at home under the district’s current hybrid model.

The assessments are to make sure students are on the same page before starting on-grade level lessons.

“Provide that skill-building before so when that on-grade level learning is presented to them they are able to meet the challenge and really learn it,” said Hull.

Hull notes that though they did find some regression in student proficiency, it wasn’t much more than the “summer slide” they usually see.

“We saw just a tad more of a regression than typical, and it will be really interesting for us to see in January when we do our next round of assessments how well we were able to recover,” said Hull. “We are hoping the recovery on that will be like other years, when we were able to recover very quickly, and our hope is that not only the in-person students were able to do that recovery but also our virtual students as well.”

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