The best way to ensure our children are learning on grade level, enrolled in the right classes, and given the opportunity to learn and grow at their pace is by truly understanding where a student is at the beginning of each school year. This has never been as critical as right now. We have seen evidence that over the last 10 months forced virtual learning due to Covid-19 has only increased the learning gap among our students.. This is especially true for kids in our most at-risk schools.
As schools start to re-open to in-person learning, they need a tool to measure growth and grade level proficiency with so much learning loss due to virtual learning and mass school closures. With rates of failure as much as doubling in some localities, we know many students are learning behind grade level or have seen not just summer learning loss but a 10 month learning loss. Federal benchmarks like SOL tests are focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of the school, not the learning level of each child.
That’s why I have introduced legislation that gives the Department of Education the ability to make sure each locality can implement a Virginia specific grade level assessment to make sure students return to in-person learning at the appropriate grade level and in the right classes so that long-term we can try to ensure success for all students. The legislation will implement an assessment in the fall, winter, and spring, which will give schools a baseline of where each student is and how much growth they see during the school year, while making sure we are adequately providing resources to help each child achieve. With two assessments, Virginia will also have a benchmark and a comparison to see how we have done in terms of getting students where they need to be.
Our biggest priority has to be getting those students who want to be in-person back to the classroom, but our responsibility to them doesn’t stop there. We have to make sure each of our students is set up for success moving forward.