A new analysis of North Carolina test results from the 2021-22 school year shows that students made significant strides from the previous year in recovering instructional time lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. This latest evidence of post-pandemic recovery in the state’s public schools was presented today to the House K-12 Education Committee by Dr. Jeni Corn, director of research and evaluation in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration.
Corn told legislators that on average, the analysis found students showed signs of academic recovery in nearly every subject, with the strongest gains measured in middle and high school math, with notable gains also found in third- and fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade science and high school Biology. Only high school English (English II) remained unchanged from 2020-21.
The new report, measuring the pandemic’s disruption to academic progress in North Carolina, uses methodology similar to a previous analysis for the 2020-21. The previous report showed that learning progress had slowed across all grades and subjects, but in some cases, students were as much as 15 months behind where they would have been in a typical year. The latest report, the Recovery Analysis Report, shows clear signs of academic recovery.
The new report shows that in some grades and subjects measured in 2020-21 with the most time needed to recover lost ground, recovery time was cut by almost half. The 15 months needed for recovery in Math 1 after 2020-21, for example, was cut to nine months after 2021-22; the 10 months needed in sixth-grade math was reduced to less than five months after 2021-22; the 14.5 months of recovery time needed in biology was cut to 8.25 months.
“The results from the 2021-22 school year empirically confirm what we’ve been hearing from teachers and principals and parents around the state,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt. “Our schools and districts have made incredible strides in helping so many of our students get back on track to their pre-pandemic performance. This data also tells us there is more work to be done and fortunately we still have federal funding available to support interventions targeted at the students who need it most.”
In addition to the overall gains, the analysis also found higher percentages of students with more positive “effect sizes” or results when compared to the 2020-21 findings. Comparing the distributions of the “effect sizes” between 2020-21 and 2021-22, greater proportions of students are showing more positive gains. The amount of time at the end of the 2021-22 school year needed to recover lost instructional time also varied by student group, grade and subject.
The analyses from both 2020-21 and 2021-22 compare test scores projected for individual students against their actual scores to determine if they made an expected year’s progress, exceeded that expectation, or fell short and by how much.
Because the state’s End-of-Grade and End-of-Course tests were suspended for the 2019-20 school year due to the pandemic, students’ prior assessment data (2018-19 and earlier), was used to determine a projected or expected score on a future assessment – for 2020-21 in last year’s analysis and for 2021-22 in the latest report. The student’s projected test score was then compared to the current test score for the same grade and subject. The comparison then provides information about the amount of time still needed to catch up.
This latest report is intended to explore the continued long-term impact of the pandemic on student learning, as well as to understand where students have made gains and closed gaps since the 2020-21 report. Through regional planning meetings earlier this spring, the data will be used by districts as part of their planning efforts, helping them to identify research-based interventions for continued recovery and acceleration.
- Top Takeaways and FAQ document.
- Full Recovery Analysis Report.
- Today’s Presentation to the House K-12 Education Committee