Meridian district students not experiencing learning loss during COVID-19 pandemic

Online learning during the spring semester.
Online learning during the spring semester.(KOTA)
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 10:18 AM CST
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STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WIFR) - Officials with Meridian CUSD 223 say their students aren’t experiencing the “learning loss” that’s been occurring throughout the United States since schools moved to online learning nearly 11 months ago.

Significant concerns exist for younger students who may not have had the skills necessary to navigate remote and hybrid learning experiences. The data emerging from Meridian CUSD 223 in Stillman Valley should ease mounting concerns at the local level. Meridian uses the STAR assessment by Renaissance Learning to measure student performance. STAR is given to over 5 million students in the nation each year.

These tests focus on measuring growth of each student and compare the growth of each student to tens of thousands of students throughout the nation that scored similarly on previous assessments. Per the data secured from Meridian’s winter benchmark students at all Kindergarten through 8th grade level at all schools the students grew faster over the past year than in the year prior in Reading. Growth scores were down slightly in mathematics, but certainly not near the crisis level that was expected. Moreover, Meridian students were still performing well above the national average on these assessments.

At Monroe Center Elementary 53 percent of students ranked above the national average in Reading and 59 percent ranked above the national average in Mathematics.

At Highland Elementary 60 percent of students ranked above the national average in Reading and 75 percent ranked above the national average in Mathematics.

Meridian CUSD 223 Superintendent Dr. PJ Caposey said he was ecstatic and relieved with the results. Caposey said, “This speaks directly to the resilience and determination of our staff, students, and parents. This has not been easy, but working together, we found a way forward.” Caposey also noted that his students have experienced every type of learning from remote to hybrid to fully in-person. He continued, “At every level of this organization we have continued to adapt and change in order to best serve kids and I believe this is an that to some extent, it worked.”

The Principals of Highland Elementary and Monroe Center Elementary echoed these sentiments. Both Deana Simpson (Monroe Center) and Joe Mullikin (Highland) were pleased with the data, but warned that there is still an immense amount of work to be done. Mrs. Simpson stated, “I am so proud of our kiddos and our staff, but this just means we are on the right track, not that the work is done.” Mr. Mullikin added, “We have years of social-emotional work and tweaking of the curriculum necessary, but we are built for this type of work. This data means that we are not in a crisis, but we will have problem-solving to do for years as a result of the pandemic.”

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