NC students are bouncing back from pandemic learning loss, new report finds

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023
NC students catching up from COVID closures: Report
Gaps in math, science and reading all narrowed in the latest test scores, and educators hope the trend continues with upcoming end of grade tests.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For North Carolina high school student Joseph Roche, it has not been easy catching up academically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was actually a freshman during most of COVID," Roche said. "I think definitely in certain subjects, especially languages like Spanish, it can be hard to bounce back from just not being there or not getting that experience in person."

But in almost every subject, notably in middle and high school math, students like Roche are making gains, according to a new report from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Students made gains in eighth-grade science and high school Biology, for example, while high school English remained unchanged from 2020-21.

Some grades and subjects measured in 2020-21 required as much as 15 months of recovery, but the time was cut by almost half, according to the new report.

However, more can be done to close gaps found in the 2021-22 school year, according to NCAE president Tamika Walker Kelly.

The magnitude of recovery for students identified as economically disadvantaged was greater for Reading in grades 3, 4 and 5 compared to the general student population, according to the new report.

"Many of the gaps for our student populations, particularly students of color, and students of disabilities, continue to exist, which they existed pre-pandemic," Walker Kelly said. "So one of the things that we know is going to be really important is to provide additional support and resources for our schools."

One example is tutoring opportunities, which Kelly Mulligan provides in Wake County.

"I think tutoring creates a safe space for students to have that one on one rapport with a tutor and really build up their own individual skill set," Mulligan said. "Tutoring gives an opportunity to look ahead and get ahead of the curve so that you are going into the classroom with some idea of what to expect and you have that confidence."

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt praised schools and districts for making incredible strides in helping students catch up but said there is more work to be done, including using federal funding to support interventions targeted at the students who need it most.