Ohio schools are getting a glimpse of the impact of the pandemic through spring testing

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio public schools have received the results of the spring evaluations, which are providing administrators with data on the impact of the pandemic on student performance.

What you need to know

  • The results of the spring evaluation were made available to administrators last week
  • The Ohio Department of Education said it was hoping for analysis in September
  • A school principal says the results were better than he expected

School officials previously had no access to numbers on how learning disabilities related to COVID-19 affected students, in part because tests were canceled in 2020 during the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

The test results were made available privately to administrators through the state’s online reporting system.

Officials said the 2021 results would be compared to pre-pandemic test data to see how students were affected in and out of different learning models during the pandemic.

Vladimir Kogan, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, is part of a research group that will analyze the evaluation results in collaboration with the state.

Vladimir Kogan (Ohio State University)

Kogan stated that an initial, limited analysis of the impact of the pandemic on education in Ohio was released in January, which took into account the results of the third-grade English language skills assessment exams held in the fall of 2020 – the only test taken in the fall is carried out, not spring.

“That was really the status at the end of October, actually only for the third grade for one subject, so the spring reports will tell us about a much wider range of grades and also for things like math and also for high school courses. ” he said.

It is too early to publish an analysis of the spring evaluations as the results have only just been released to schools, he said.

As Ohio state researchers go through the results, they hope to get answers to critical questions about education in Ohio 16 months after the pandemic: Which grade levels are struggling the most? Which topics were more affected than others? And what is the demographics of the students who have fallen behind?

The Ohio Department of Education said in a statement to Spectrum News that it is conducting its own data analysis in addition to working with Ohio State.


Students stay aloof and in separate lanes when they pass between classes. (AP Photo, Jessica Hill, File)

“The spring reports have provided a lot of data and the department is working on processing and analyzing them all,” said spokeswoman Mandy Minick. “We assume that this work has been completed and that we will be able to provide insights into our results at the beginning of September.”

Ohio schools can now show the percentage of students who passed each test on a scale from 1 to 5.

The subjects tested vary depending on the grade. These include English-language arts, math, science and, for high school students, social studies. Minick confirmed that the results of all of these tests were shared with schools.

Bill Wingler, director of Strongsville High School, said he received the school’s results and started evaluating them.

The Strongsville High test results were “mixed up,” but overall the results were better than he would have thought given the circumstances, he said.

“We haven’t had any test results in two years,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge amount of data.”

He attributes the solid performance of his students to the fact that most of them learned most of their studies personally in the previous school year. In Cuyahoga County, Strongsville was more personal than any other district last year, and only about 100-150 of the 1,900 students chose the virtual option, he said.

“Being live is an advantage. There is no doubt and I think as much as we want to use technology to complement education, there is still a lot to be said about learning the good old-fashioned way so that a teacher can give direct feedback to a child ” said Wingler.

The students who remained in virtual learning had a harder time, which he attributes to the challenges of teaching subjects such as chemistry or human geography on the computer.


High school students sit in a classroom separated by plastic partitions after returning to face-to-face study. (AP photo, Charlie Riedel, file)

The impact of the pandemic on student performance is a combination of the complete shutdown of school buildings in the fall, as well as the ongoing disruption over the past year, which varied from school to school, as Ohio school districts were given the freedom to join the learning model of their choice said Kogan.

The Ohio state report of third grade test scores found that students across the country were, on average, about a third of a year behind. The effects were greatest among black students, who stayed an average of six months, Kogan said.

Based on the fall results, it’s likely that the spring data will also show that the counties that stayed in virtual or hybrid models longer than counties like Strongsville will face the brunt of the educational setbacks.

“We found that by the fall, completely remote districts had students who were more behind than students who were completely personal, and districts doing hybrids were somewhere in between,” he said.

With the third grade ratings, test scores dropped more in areas of the state where there was more unemployment and economic hardship, Kogan said. Whether this trend continues in the new data will be of interest as the researchers analyze the spring results.

For the first time, the results will also show whether younger or older students were more severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are some reasons to believe that the impact will be greater in younger grades, where it is more difficult for students to work remotely, than perhaps in older grades,” said Kogan. “On the flip side, you will have more students in older grades who have been left at home alone and thus may have more opportunities not to stay on track.”

Given the appetite of some Strongsville families for more distance learning options after the pandemic, Wingler said he would look at the test numbers to see if online learning was effective in the district.

He predicts that this round of test results will make decisions nationwide about how much online learning schools should offer in the future.

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