Double-Digit Gains in Math and Reading
Pandemic Learning Gap Closes in Walla Walla with Double-Digit Gains in Math and Reading
Walla Walla Public Schools K-8 students have erased pandemic-period learning losses based on mid-year academic assessments. The results are due both to smaller declines during the period of hybrid schooling and to additional investments in supports for staff and students directed by the school board, according to Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith.
On the heels of the pandemic, the Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors established aggressive student reading and mathematics goals for their superintendent and schools last summer. From fall to winter this school year, the board targeted a 10% increase in the number of students performing at or above grade level in reading and math. Additionally, they established the same expectation for struggling students, requesting 10% fewer students score below grade level from fall to winter.
“These are lofty goals, expecting students to demonstrate remarkable growth in just a half years’ time,” notes Superintendent Smith. “However, our board realized the importance and urgency that students catch up, and we were laser-focused this fall and winter in doing so.”
Results from the winter i-Ready diagnostic revealed 13% more students are now performing on or above grade level in reading and math, in just a half years’ time, reaching levels not seen since the 2019-2020 school year.
“These results are a credit to teachers, administrators and support staff who have embraced the urgency of recovery for many students who came back to school facing intense challenges academically and socially,” said School Board President Derek Sarley. “The targeted investment of federal relief funds in new after-school programs, and additional counseling and family engagement staff have boosted their efforts as well.”
Nationwide, student reading and math scores decreased considerably as a result of interrupted learning during the pandemic, erasing decades of growth on national assessments like NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress). Locally, while Walla Walla did not see as large of academic dip, performance on local and state assessments were negatively impacted during the pandemic.
“We are excited for the growth our students have made and look forward to continued efforts through the remainder of the school year,” states Superintendent Smith. “We anticipate just as much if not more improvement from winter to spring and look forward to celebrating and communicating end of the year student performance with families and our community.”
Photo: Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors