Topics Related to Research & Recovery Roundup

A new analysis of North Carolina 2022-23 test results indicates clear signs of continued academic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This latest evidence of post-pandemic recovery in the state’s public schools was presented today to the State Board of Education by Dr. Jeni Corn, director of research and evaluation in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR).

There is meaning in establishing a partnership. For researchers and educators, this is significant. In traditional circles, the notion of conducting research is viewed as an academic exercise where a problem is identified, a methodology is proposed to address the problem, and evidence is presented considering specific outcomes. These siloed spaces existing between researchers and practitioners have presented challenges in education. As a state agency, our task was to examine how we could undo these patterns and transform how we work with university partnerships. Through these partnerships, our focus was to leverage actionable findings that were more meaningful for districts and constituencies in the educational field. Through this year-long journey, four UNC-system research institutions partnered with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to evaluate the impact and implementation of summer learning programs across various regions in the state.

For the past several years, pursuant to S.L. 2021-180 Section 7.27(a)(6), the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and SAS Institute Inc. (SAS EVAAS) collaborated to provide educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders with insight into the impacts of the pandemic on the K-12 public school system. The “Lost Instructional Time Impact Analysis” and “Recovery Analysis” presented average differences between students’ expected and actual performance during 2021 and 2022, respectively, and define recovery as progress back towards those expectations.

Last year, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and SAS Institute Inc. (SAS) collaborated to leverage existing student assessment data and yield insight into how the pandemic disrupted student learning. The focus of the Impact Analysis was to identify the overall impact to the state as well as subjects, grades and student groups most affected by lost instructional time. One year later, NCDPI and SAS revisited the Impact Analysis to understand students’ recovery through the 2021-22 school year.

The Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR) studies COVID-recovery initiatives within North Carolina’s public schools. OLR has partnered with the EVAAS team at SAS to measure the pandemic’s overall effect on academic progress, based on the results of state standardized tests, by comparing individual students to their own expected performance rather than the average performance of pre-pandemic cohorts. This analysis is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and should inform education policy throughout the state.  See preliminary report released in March 2022 and full technical report released in December 2022. 

Initially, NCDPI found it very informative to view statewide Lost Instructional Time results in terms of average negative impacts of the pandemic. For the first time, this whitepaper presents the findings focused on the distribution of effects, which allows education stakeholders to better understand that many students across all groups made and exceeded expected growth during the pandemic year. 

Education uses attendance as both an indicator of student engagement and a predictor of outcomes in educational quality. Attendance has become an increasingly salient issue during the pandemic, given sustained disruptions to traditional in-person schooling and concerns regarding student development and equity. In this post, OLR describes selected patterns of monthly attendance (whether present or absent) and instructional mode (whether present remotely or in-person) across North Carolina during the 2020-2021 school year.

During the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted traditional methods of student learning. Traditional methods of delivery were uprooted by school closures and an unplanned shift to remote learning.  Our teachers and school and district leaders responded by an unprecedented shift to digital learning and provided a digital device for every teacher and student in the state.

Summer is a valuable time for families, students, and educators. Not only are the summer months an opportunity to improve social and cognitive development for children, but also to mitigate the impacts of instructional loss further widened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the nation, school districts are working to develop their summer programming to make the most impact on students. 

For North Carolina public school students, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education to the extent that most students experienced less academic growth than during a typical pre-pandemic school year. Although schools were operational throughout the 2020-2021 school year, student growth was negatively impacted by the disruptions to learning compared to a “regular” school year. In some cases, given the severity and diversity of pandemic-induced challenges, students may now need interventions that accelerate learning experiences beyond the typical instructional time during an academic school year.