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In-class learning ‘improving’ in charter schools

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(The Center Square) – North Carolina charter school students are recovering steadily from learning losses that resulted from remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

A report earlier this year for the entire public school system showed a similar trend. Charter schools are public schools, same as traditional public schools, though often perception is otherwise.

The pandemic, which forced students to attend class remotely starting in 2020, had a “significant negative impact” on learning in all charter schools in the state, as measured by test scores, Jeni Corn, director of Research and Evaluation for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction told the state’s Charter School Review Board on Monday.

But as students started returning to in-class instruction, learning improved, she said.

“What this data shows us is the enormous amount of progress students have been making since that drop in 2021,” she told the board. “The work that the teachers and the students have been doing since the pandemic needs to be celebrated.”

That work has included tutoring, both before school and after school, particularly in the math and reading, Corn said.

The data also shows the power of in-class instruction over remote learning in many subject areas, she said.

“I also think what this data shows is that we are social learners,” Corn said. “When students learn best when they are in class with their peers, working collaboratively, learning together with their teacher. This shows that without school as a hub for so many of our students, learning was so disrupted. The amount of work they have done since they got back has been significant and intentional and it took work.”

Full academic recovery from the pandemic could be reached soon, Corn told The Center Square.

“I think in elementary reading, we are going back maybe this 2024 year,” she said. “In elementary math, I don’t think it will quite that fast but it’s pretty close. It’s middle grade math that we still have some work to do and eighth grade science. Eighth grade science is headed in the wrong direction right now and we need to make some adjustments.”

In some subjects, scores actually improve during the pandemic for some students, Corn said.

“For upper-level high school students, reading along independently actually made their schools go up,” she said. “Now their scores are going down.”

For those students a flipped classroom model of giving more time reading remotely learning, could be a point of discussion, Corn said.

“It seemed to really work,” she said.

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