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UASD Carefully Monitors Student Learning, Finding Some Concerns but Also a Rebound

The Upper Adams School District School Board heard on Tuesday from administrators in each of their schools about student learning during the pandemic.  Overall the administrators reported there had been some decreases in learning from last year and that although these were concerning many students were now improving.

Biglerville Elementary School Principal Jamie Kerstetter said that on the test that is used to determine grade level, there had been a drop in first, second, and third grades.

But Kerstetter also said that among the low-income Title 1 children, 95 percent had moved up one reading level since the start of the year and two-thirds had moved up two levels. 

“Now they are a back in school they seem to be picking up and making good progress,” said Kerstetter.

Reporting from the intermediate school (grades 4-6), Principal Sonia Buckley said the biggest issues were decreases in stamina for children taking tests and increased mental health issues.

Buckley said there had been a small drop from an average in 2019 of 59 percent to an average of 51 percent this year on a generalized ability test. “Normally scores would be low in the beginning of the year,” said Buckley. “We didn’t see that students lost ground, but we did notice that stamina is lacking.”

Shane Brewer said that in the middle school the number of children who were failing after the first quarter had increased in both 7th grade from six percent to ten percent and in eighth grade from 11.5 percent to 19 percent.

Brewer said the number of students on the honor roll had decreased about fifteen percent. 

“We continue to find students are struggling on remote days. Our challenges continue to be attendance, learning gaps from the spring, and remote school completion,” said Brewer.

Brewer said students in the second quarter are “off to a better start so we believe our solutions are working.”

Biglerville High School Principal Beth Graham said there were fewer students failing in the 11th and 12th grade this year but that there was about a 10 percent increase in failures in the 9th grade.  Graham said the transfer to 9th grade is difficult and that a decrease was not surprising.

Graham said the number of honors students had not changed dramatically.

Graham said the school was working with students who need help. “We’re pulling kids in on their off days.  We have set up tutoring. We’re doing a lot of parent communication,” said Graham. 

The teachers have really thought outside the box,” said Graham. “In the face of COVID we’re doing as well as we can.”

Graham said that with the lower number of children in the building, discipline has not been an issue, and that the school was reaching out to parents working on the attendance issues.  “These are students who’ve had attendance issues in the past.  It makes a bit tougher. I wish I had a magic wand,” said Graham.

Director of Student Services Anne Corwell explained to the board in detail how special education children were being closely monitored using regular observations with data posted on spreadsheets. “Our kids did lose some skills over the summer, but many of them have bounced back,” said Corwell. “I’m very pleased with that.”

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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