Where do we start? Curriculum Associates CEO Rob Waldron believes it’s with the teachers. In this episode, Rob expounds on shifting PD methods during COVID, the importance of the edTech community to support education, and the new role parents are playing in this current reality.

Curriculum Associates, developer of curriculum and diagnostic assessments used by nearly 30 percent of K–8 students across the US, recently released an analysis of Diagnostic testing data for students returning to school this fall. Fall 2020 test results were also compared to historical student outcomes over a three-year period dating back to 2017.

According to the findings, while “COVID slide” can be significant, the effects differ markedly based on a range of variables, including age, race, and income level. The analysis, which explores performance differences between students who have returned to school in person compared to those still fully remote, also raises questions about at-home testing.

“The shift to remote learning has magnified already pervasive inequities for millions of school children,” said Kristen Huff, Ed.D., Vice President of Assessment and Research at Curriculum Associates, who conducted the analysis. “But it has also created an opportunity to explore a range of important research questions. COVID-19 has had far-reaching—and in many ways poorly understood—implications for our students. This analysis takes an important first step toward making sense of outcomes in an unprecedented environment and charting a path forward.”

Additional findings from the brief include:

  • Diagnostic testing of students in person (whether hybrid or full time) suggests that last spring’s school shutdowns negatively affected all students, translating into more students entering school this fall who aren’t ready for grade-level work.
  • More students entering school this fall are unprepared for grade-level work (i.e., testing two or more grade levels below their current grade). These differences are especially stark across Grades 2–4 and are worse in Mathematics than in Reading.
  • Typically, 19 percent of second graders place in the fall at least two grade levels below in Reading. In 2020 that rose to 25 percent: six percentage points higher than the historical average.
  • The data also shows that a full 30 percent of second graders are more than two grade levels below in Mathematics: 10 percentage points higher than the historical average.
  • Students in Grades 1–5 who sat for assessments in Mathematics and Reading at home this fall scored higher than students who returned to school and also higher than historical trends.

“We believe that our responsibility extends beyond supporting the heroic work of educators, to the publication of objective, transparent data that can help to inform decision-makers at every level of our education system,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates. “In a moment when teachers are grappling with the effects of trauma, and families face once unimaginable challenges, this data raises questions that don’t have easy answers. But we are hopeful that in sharing this data, we can play a small role in building the sort of mutual understanding and data-driven collaboration that can create a more equitable future in education.”

To review the research findings, visit CurriculumAssociates.com/Fall2020Data.

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