Assessment tests given to elementary and junior high Waterville Central School students show gaps growing in their learning, particularly among students using the hybrid model.
During a three-hour virtual only board meeting last week, which began with a 20-minute executive session to discuss a personnel matter, board members and administrators discussed both the short-term learning gaps shown and how to address the gap when students resume full-time in-person instruction likely in fall 2021.
Becky Nugent, who teaches first grade at Memorial Park and does data analysis for the district, talked about the assessment results shown from the i-Ready series used at MPS and the Junior High. Assessments are given at the beginning, middle and end of each school year to determine if a student’s learning is on track.
In normal years, Nugent said, there is a fall-off of knowledge from June to September because of the lack of education during the summer. This year, she said, that gap was bigger than usual.
Waterville, like all New York state schools, went all remote in mid-March to end the 2019-20 year. “Because of Covid,’’ Nugent said, “the numbers fell in the fall more than in prior years.’’
That came when combining the assessments of all students. When broken out for this year based on students using the half-day model and those learning 100 percent virtual, those learning completely at home did better.
Nugent attributed that to the more relaxed home environment compared to the more controlled situation at school. Students taking the test at home, she said, were less anxious.
Junior High scores remained stable throughout, she said.
Board President Steve Stanton asked to have the data broken down on remote vs. hybrid instruction. “We need to see what is working, what isn’t. What data do we need to look at to get to full-time instruction in the classroom.’’
Stanton said the number one concern now is how to get more instruction to students. “Then how do we go back to normal,’’ he said.
MPS Principal Maureen Gray said a rewards system used by teachers at the elementary school, supported by the MPS PTA, has shown to work. Also, Gray said, students check their own progress through i-Ready.
But at the Junior-Senior High, Principal Nick Rauch said there is a high degree of push-back from parents who do not like the assessment tool.
Adding to the uncertainty of how long the hybrid model will work is the rising number of cases of Covid-19 WCS and...