Academic recovery from pandemic will require “all hands on deck” approach by our communities, families and state leaders – Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Academic recovery from pandemic will require “all hands on deck” approach by our communities, families and state leaders

Sept. 29, 2021

LEXINGTON, KY – Following the statewide release of Kentucky’s 2020-21 K-12 assessment data, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is calling on all communities, families, and policymakers to unite with school and district leaders for an “all hands on deck” approach to academic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we know there is much information about the resiliency of our students and educators that these results do not show, they do help us understand the challenges ahead and provide a focal point of urgency for devising solutions to accelerate learning in the future,” said Prichard Committee President & CEO Brigitte Blom. “Students, educators, and families met unimaginable challenges with extraordinary innovation and effort during the 2020-21 school year.”

Data from the Kentucky Summative Assessment (previously known as the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress or K-PREP) show:

  • 39.5% of elementary students who participated in the reading assessment scored proficient or distinguished;
  • 27.8% of middle school students who participated in the mathematics assessment were rated proficient or distinguished; and
  • Only 29.9% of high school juniors met Kentucky’s college-readiness benchmark in mathematics, along with 39.9% in reading and 42.3% in English.

Additionally, the scores show lower results for historically underserved student groups. However, there were lower assessment participation rates at the high school level and for some of the underserved groups.

The data release from the Kentucky Department of Education included survey results from school climate and culture questions asked of students during the assessment period. Notably, the majority of students (90.3% elementary; 80.5% middle school; and 77.6% high school) who responded reported the ability to work with teachers and classmates online when schools were closed.

“This pandemic has been a test of the sustainability of our public education system as it exists today, and Kentucky’s system is not making the grade. The system now demands sustained investment and innovations that are more responsive to the needs of our students, families, and educators,” said Blom. “Academic recovery from this pandemic to ensure that all Kentuckians are prepared to embark upon a big bold future must be a top priority for all of us during these unprecedented times.”

The Prichard Committee recommends the following policy and practice approaches to academic recovery to move Kentucky students forward.

At the local level, families and community leaders must work with their local schools to:

  • Support adequate local funding for education;
  • Make learning a collaboration between families and schools;
  • Create intensive tutoring and mentoring programs;
  • Provide extended learning time; and
  • Advocate for effective use of American Rescue Plan funding.

At the state level, policymakers must:

  • Invest in evidence-based, effective professional learning programs for teachers, especially those that develop early literacy and mathematics skills;
  • Fully fund school transportation & all-day kindergarten; and
  • Compile information about how districts are using federal dollars to improve student outcomes.

“Over the next several years, communities have especially intense work to do in order to deliver fully for student groups that have historically been underserved in our schools, including English learners, students with identified disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, African American students, and Hispanic or Latino students,” said Blom. “Given the need and the resources available, it is time for all communities to roll up their sleeves and have the creative, solutions-focused, conversations about how to use what we’ve learned to do more than recover – we must build a new foundation for education – one that is stronger, more resilient, and seeks to repair the challenges and inequities laid bare amidst COVID.

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