NASD: COVID impact seen in test score decline
BY PAUL WILLISTEIN
The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on student academic scores in Northampton Area School District.
The finding is contained in the NASD State Academic Scores Report 2021-22.
NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik and NASD Assistant Superintendent Michelle Schoeneberger presented the report at the Sept. 12 NASD Board of Education meeting.
While the report makes a correlation between COVID-19 and lower curriculum scores, NASD is not alone in the coronavirus impact on student learning performance.
“The pandemic has disrupted student learning at a national level,” the report states.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress results for 2022 say reading had its largest score drop since 1990 and mathematics had its first-ever drop.
At the Sept. 12 meeting in the Northampton Area High School auditorium, Kovalchik and Schoeneberger vowed to the school board and public that the district has taken measures to reverse the downturn in student academic performance. The report indicates some of these efforts may already be improving student learning.
The report examines the last five school years - 2018-19 to 2022-23. The 2018-19 school year was the last full school year before the pandemic shutdown.
No state assessments were administered in the 2019-20 school year. Schools closed for in-person learning as of March 2020.
A hybrid learning schedule was adopted in 2020-21, with approximately 29% of NASD students in eLearning. Full-time in-person learning returned in the 2021-22 school year with approximately 5.1% in eLearning.
The report is based on state academic data for grades 3-12 from two test areas: the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment in English Language Arts for grades 3-8, mathematics for grades 3-8 and science for grades 4 and 8 and the Keystone Exams end-of-course tests in algebra, literature and biology.
The PSSA and Keystone summaries state, “Overall, 2021-22 proficiency levels are lower than pre-COVID years.”
NASD 2019-22 PSSA English language arts results for proficient or advanced declined in every grade in 2022 compared to 2019. For example, English language arts results in grade 8 dropped from 59% in 2019 to 52% in 2022.
NASD 2019-22 PSSA mathematics results for proficient or advanced declined in every grade in 2022 compared to 2019. Math results in grade 8 dropped from 30% in 2019 to 20% in 2022.
NASD 2019-22 PSSA science results for proficient or advanced declined in both fourth and eighth grades. Science results in grade 8 dropped from 64% in 2019 to 57% in 2022.
NASD 2019-22 Keystone literature results of proficient-advanced grade 11 students declined from 77.9% in 2019 to 64.9% in 2022.
NASD 2019-22 Keystone algebra results of proficient-advanced grade 11 students increased from 71.8% in 2019 to 83% in 2022.
NASD 2019-22 Keystone biology results of proficient-advanced grade 11 students decreased from 70.9% in 2019 to 61% in 2022.
The report also lists factors that influence academic performance that were enhanced by the pandemic, including attendance, motivation, behavior, physical and mental health, peer relationships, staff absenteeism, home situations such as homelessness or foster homes and family engagement.
Other K-12 grade assessment data includes quarterly assessments and classroom assessments.
NASD has had 10 years of goal-setting, data analysis and monitoring progress, including monthly administrative meetings, summer administrative workshops and district data retreats.
The full 25-page report is available on the NASD website, nasdschools.org.
The next board of education meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in the NAHS auditorium, 1619 Laubach Ave., Northampton.