By Alyssa Schnugg
While most children have physically faired better from COVID-19 than older adults, they have been affected in other ways, especially when it came to their schooling last year.
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, schools shut down and children attended school virtually. Once Oxford schools reopened giving parents a choice on whether to continue with virtual learning or send their children to school, about a third of Oxford students remained at home with their iPads.
On Monday, Marni Herrington, Chief Academic Officer for the OSD, told the Board of Trustees that the district saw a “significant decline” in student proficiency from 2020 to 2021 according to the NWEA report released recently.
“We saw a significant decline in student proficiency in all four subject areas,” she said.
However, she pointed out that the 1,500 students who remained virtual were not mandated to take the NWEA test last year.
“So it’s not a true representation of our population,” she said.
English dropped 10 percent; math scores dropped 18 percent; science scores dropped 6 percent and history scores dropped by 17 percent.
Herrington will give a more detailed report to the Board during a special called meeting on Oct. 15 where the Board will also discuss how the district is addressing the decline in proficiency scores.
Superintendent Bradley Robertson said while the scores were “nothing to be proud of, it could have been worse.”
Despise the school district scoring a 44.8 proficiency in English, it still fell into the top 10-scoring districts in Mississippi.
“That should be alarming to all of us,” he said.
He said the drop in proficiency scores was “most definitely” related to students learning virtually last year.
“While our teachers did a great job providing a virtual learning experience … it’s just not the best method of providing a quality education to all kids,” he said. “The students who were taught virtually did not perform nearly as well as that taught face-to-face.”
Roberson said the NWEA test is just one piece of data that shows the negative impact the pandemic has had on students, and why keeping kids in school should be the main goal of the school district.
Board member Ray Hill said he’s never seen a drop in proficiency scores like the ones presented Monday during his six years as a trustee.
“We have to do whatever we can do to keep these kids in school,” Hill said. “This is a very, very concerning situation we’re finding ourselves in.”