The rush to find a way to further quantify the effect of the pandemic on schools without placing responsibility on our government’s response to the virus is on display in HB82 in the North Carolina General Assembly.
First, it would be nice to know exactly what “innovative benchmark assessments” actually are. It would also be nice to know who would be constructing them. Then it would be nice to know when they would be given when we as a state still are on the hook for EOC’s and other standardized tests like the PSAT, Pre-ACT, and ACT.
But it seems a little hypocritical to ask for “innovative benchmark assessments” when the state superintendent herself already has stated how much learning loss there has been.
In a November 22nd interview with Fox News, Catherine Truitt was quoted as telling the producers of the segment that “between March and September students lost on average 50% in literacy and 70% for math.”
She was talking about “learning loss” due to the pandemic.
Listen for yourself. Click here for the link.
That was a fairly bold claim considering that almost half of the time between March and September is traditionally a summer break.
It’s also odd that all federally mandated tests and most state tests that “measure” learning traditionally given at the end of a school year were waived very eagerly by officials on the national and state levels.
Hard to quantify “student learning loss” without the actual testing data. Even harder to quantify learning loss due to the pandemic during that span when there is no historical precedent to measure it against.
AND it’s even harder to measure it still when there was a “summer slide” in place.
So where did Truitt get those numbers she never explained? Here’s a possible explanation from Daniel Wydo.
Here’s the research brief that Wydo refers to:
The NWEA is an assessment company mostly known for the MAP tests.
“NWEA (formerly known as the Northwest Evaluation Association), is a research-based not-for-profit organization that creates academic assessments for students pre-K-12. Currently, NWEA assessments are used by over 9500 schools and districts in 145 countries. Its primary assessment product is the MAP Suite, a collection of formative and interim assessments that help teachers identify unique student learning needs, track skills mastery, and measure academic growth over time. By testing students three times over the school year, MAP assessments attempt to track student growth over time in order to help educators plan instruction that meets student at their level and predict performance on accountability measures.”
What the interviewer said Truitt told her producers was a 50% literacy loss and a 70% math loss in learning,
Here’s what the brief said:
Truitt made it sound as if it was fact. It’s conjecture. A projection that she never said that included a “summer slide” component added to another hypothetical number.
Truitt also didn’t say that her information may have come from an quantitative assessment company that did not have actual data from quantitative assessments to make such projections.
“Preliminary estimates” do not automatically translate into reality that can be passed off as gospel on television but that seems to be what happened in Truitt’s interview. If not, then she can show us the data.
And any teacher can tell you that most of what students really learn can never be measured with “innovative benchmark assessments.”
Especially considering we are in really nonstandard times.