By Megan Kelley
During the Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education’s regular meeting on June 23, district Data Specialist Missy Butki presented end of the year student achievement data.
Butki has joined the board several times in the past year providing insight on what was being referred to as a “COVID Slide” or student regression in academics that had been occurring throughout the pandemic.
While the data presented in October 2020 was slightly concerning to district officials, with the percentage of high-risk first grade students seeing an increase, Butki was confident, however, that the regression would be temporary.
The district responded to the issues by transferring support to grade levels in need.
When Butki returned in February of this year to present the data from the winter semester, the data showed that the grade levels that had received additional support had begun to recover from the earlier learning losses.
The data presented at the June 23 meeting, like meetings prior, was collected among Kindergarten through eighth-grade students district-wide using nationally-normed benchmark assessments for reading and math. These assessments are done through state-approved vendor, FastBridge Learning.
“I want you to please keep in mind these few things: I looked at the numbers. I crunched the numbers, I’ve put them in charts and graphs. I do all sorts of statistics on these numbers,” Butki said. “But behind these numbers have been children who have been through a year of something they’ve never experienced before. They’ve been through the year of teachers figuring out how to teach virtually. They were all remote in the beginning (of the school year). In the middle, some were remote, some were in-person, hybrid, this, that; and then at the end of the year we had some face-to-face and we had Dragon Virtual who was remote. So, the data you’re going to see today, it’s raw data but don’t forget the faces behind it.”
The benchmarks have not been adjusted due to COVID-19 or school shutdowns. Student achievement and performance is still based on the benchmarks in place in 2018-19.
Additionally, benchmark requirements are sliding benchmarks. This means that a score received in the spring that was proficient is no longer a proficient score in the fall. In order for a score to be proficient it must continue to increase over time.
“It’s all over the place that these kids have a learning loss. We don’t have a learning loss, we’re just comparing it to what was normal,” said Butki. “I don’t speak of it that way. I see it as a learning gain, because they’ve gained a lot.”
At the beginning of the year, 74 percent of the K-8 students were reaching benchmarks for proficiency in reading. By the middle of the year, the percentage dipped slightly to 68 percent and by the end of the year, had bounced back to 71 percent.
For math, at the beginning of the year 76 percent of K-8 students were meeting proficiency benchmark requirements. There was another dip by the middle of the year with 73 percent hitting those benchmarks, which was maintained through the end of the year.
In the fall, 20 percent of first grade students were considered high-risk for not meeting benchmarks in reading. This time around, the number has dropped with only 12 percent of first grade students now at high-risk for not meeting the benchmarks in reading.
While benchmark assessments and data are important when moving forward, Butki also wants to focus on growth.
“When I was here in January, the statistics I was able to report on — that we had 66 percent of two through eight (grades) making growth in reading and 70 percent of students making growth in math. Growth was defined as just gaining a point, which in some of these assessments is kind of difficult to do because it gets increasingly harder on those adaptive tests,” Butki said.
“For the spring, we had 83 percent of our students make growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year in reading, and 85 percent of our students made growth in math.”
The district is expected to use the same vendor and the same assessments in the fall, while diving into more interventions for at risk students, Butki said.