Why are academics in decline? How did math competency decline by nearly 50 percent in just five years? What is going on?
Barriers & Disruptions to Learning:
Physical distancing was enforced, making teaching and learning more difficult, and making socializing difficult.
Students were masked at school (until March 2022.) Another barrier to teaching/learning/socializing.
Rolling quarantines were in place (2020-21 school year) meaning that kids would routinely be quarantined for 5-10 days after a known Covid exposure, leading to extensive absences, and subsequent gaps in learning.
Academic Decline in WCASD
Valedictorians are no longer recognized. (This is a national trend.)
The definition of failure was changed so that it would appear that more students were passing. (This decision was later reversed.)
Summer reading assignments were abolished. Instead, students were "encouraged" to read.
Instead of looking at academic outcomes as a result of schools being closed/hybrid, the WCASD Education Committee (comprised of school board members) made 47 policy changes in 2020-21. They looked at academic outcomes only TWICE in that time period and that was only because parents forced the conversation.
Homeroom was eliminated and time was snatched from each class period throughout the day to create a Lunch and Learn period where kids could get extra help. In reality, kids are using this time to socialize. (See page 51.)
Academic Decline in PA
The PA School Counselor Association recommends "grading for equity" rather than grading on merit.
Did you know that PA lowered the threshold for academic performance all the way back in 2015? The goal was to help more students graduate from high school. But is lowering standards for everyone leading to improved outcomes? Or has this strategy backfired, resulting in a larger number of students being less prepared?
This report from 2020 (pre-pandemic) highlights the fact that progressive districts tend to have larger achievement gaps than conservative districts.
We have a lot to do--here in West Chester, and in Pennsylvania--to get students back on track and to make academics a priority again. Change begins by voting in 2023 to elect new faces to serve on our school board.
**The district just this week decided to reconsider whether or not to implement heterogenous grouping.