State presents COVID-19 impact analysis, spring ‘21 assessment results

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News

Published on August 03, 2021 with No Comments

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Inc. (Center for Assessment) in mid-July presented initial findings from Indiana’s COVID-19 Academic Impact Study and released results from Indiana’s spring 2021 assessments. The analysis and results indicate the academic impacts of the pandemic were substantial — ranging from moderate to significant across schools, academic subjects and demographic groups.

“We know that English/language arts and math provide the foundational building blocks upon which future learning is achieved, with one year of learning building upon the next,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner. “These results confirm what we expected, and what we now know — student learning was significantly impacted by COVID-19. I applaud our Indiana educators who worked tirelessly to ensure a safe environment that kept many students in the classroom. Looking ahead, this new baseline and other student-level data provide direction on where we must focus individualized student learning over the coming years. This is not a time to admire the problem — this is a time to focus on solutions.”

The Academic Impact Study, required as part of House Enrolled Act 1514 during this year’s legislative session, found that statewide, students in elementary and middle school experienced significant academic impact in mathematics and moderate to significant impacts in English/language arts, with academic impacts also likely in other content areas. Phase one of the study is being conducted by the National Center for Assessment and will be available later this summer. 

One of many data points used to inform this study included statewide results from the Indiana Learning Evaluation and Readiness Network (ILEARN) assessment, which indicate that 40.5% of students are at or above proficiency standards in English/language arts, and 36.9% are at or above proficiency standards in mathematics. Significant gaps persist among Indiana’s racially and ethnically diverse, low-income, special education, and English language learner students. Full ILEARN results, as well as results from other spring assessments, are available here.

ILEARN, which meets state and federal requirements, was first administered in 2019. It assesses proficiency in content standards in English/language arts and mathematics in grades three through eight, science in grades four and six, social studies in grade five, and U.S. Government and biology in high school. Statewide, 97% of students in these grades participated in this year’s assessment, with results used for informational purposes only. The assessment was not administered in 2020 due to pandemic-related school closures and a federally-granted waiver. 

“Indiana’s educators have done phenomenal work helping students continue to learn under unprecedented circumstances. Now more than ever, every instructional minute counts, and schools cannot do this alone. With data in hand, we must look to the future, and we need everyone to come to the table — educators, parents, community leaders and beyond — to provide individualized support and resources to each and every student,” said Jenner.

Looking ahead, community partners are encouraged to partner with local schools to align curriculum, instructional strategies and student support. IDOE encourages schools to adopt a comprehensive, multi-year response to help all students recover, especially students most significantly impacted. This response includes:

  • Understanding the Data – First, analyze multiple individual student data points using state and local data to meet student needs where they are today.
  • Intervening with Strategic Support – Use the right tools to help students, including additional staff resources to allow small group instruction and strategic leveraging of community resources and talent.
  • Acting to Meet Students at Their Current Level – Based on data analysis, determine the action steps for individual students.
  • Recognizing That One Size Does Not Fit All – Tailor instruction for individual or small groups, in particular those with specific learning needs.
  • Innovating to Strategically Accelerate Learning – To support all students, new, bold, and dedicated efforts are essential.
  • Leveraging Every Minute and Keeping the Focus on Student Impact – Be intentional with, and consider ways to expand, learning time. Devote uninterrupted blocks of time to literacy and math.
  • Providing Intentional and Focused Instruction – Focus on grade-level instruction with remediation as needed for individual students, which includes ensuring understanding of fundamental, essential previous grade-level standards.

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