Rhode Island Department of Education, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment Release Report on COVID-19 Academic Impact in Rhode Island

 Rhode Island Department of Education, National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment Release Report on COVID-19 Academic Impact in Rhode Island
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Report analyzes impact of pandemic on learning statewide as well as by community and demographic group 

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Education today released the final version of a report authored by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment which provides the first in-depth analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on student learning. The report examines student performance on both the RICAS exam and the WIDA-ACCESS exam for multilingual learners (MLLs) and quantifies the impact on student learning by grade, demographic group, previous academic achievement, and school district. The report found significant impacts across the state, concluding that recovering to pre-pandemic levels of student achievement will require multiple years of accelerated learning strategies.

“We must do whatever it takes to get students back on track in the wake of the pandemic,” said Rhode Island Council on K-12 Education Chair Patti DiCenso. “Despite the setbacks we and communities across the nation have faced, we will find a way to help our students both catch up and get ahead of where they would be without the effects of COVID-19. It will take a statewide effort, but we are confident that we can do it together.”

“This report reveals the full scale of the pandemic’s impact on student learning and gives a look at the challenging path ahead of us as a state,” said Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green. “We must now work to implement methods of accelerated learning, including the findings of the LEAP Task Force and the work of educators whose students improved during the pandemic. Districts across the state have already begun this work, and we look forward to working with parents, educators, and community groups to continue it in the coming years.”

Among the report’s findings were the following:

  • ELA impacts were moderate to large, while mathematics impacts were large to severe.
  • Almost every student was impacted academically by the pandemic, but not every group was impacted equally:
    • Hispanic students demonstrated the greatest impacts to mathematics.
    • Economically disadvantaged students were slightly more impacted than their peers in mathematics.
    • Female students demonstrated slightly more impact in ELA than male students.
  • Academic impacts are larger in the higher grades than in the lower grades.
  • Impacts varied by district, although no district was unimpacted.
  • Historically higher-achieving students were more severely impacted than their peers.
    • This was also true in analyzing the WIDA-ACCESS results for MLL students.
  • Multilingual learners demonstrated comparable academic impact to other demographic subgroups on the RICAS.
    • On WIDA-ACCESS, elementary and middle school MLL students were less impacted than high school students.
RIDE has already begun to take action on addressing the impact of the pandemic, starting with assembling last year’s LEAP Task Force to develop accelerated learning strategies. Following the Task Force’s recommendation, RIDE has created the District Support Program to provide funding and additional supports to the districts most impacted by the pandemic, the Facility Equity Initiative to update school buildings in at-need districts, and the Let It Out campaign to promote social-emotional health in schools across the state.
The full report, which can be viewed here, includes the full findings. The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment is a New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization that works with state and local education agencies to design and evaluate assessment programs. The Center, which has created similar reports for other states including Indiana, Arizona, Colorado, and Hawaii, completed this analysis as part of its ongoing contract with Rhode Island to support the state’s assessment and accountability work.


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