Loy Norrix recovers from stalled learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while other schools struggle

Loy Norrix recovers from stalled learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while other schools struggle

Foster Neve-Jones, Assistant Web Editor and Knights Speak

During the COVID-19 pandemic, test scores declined across Michigan’s school districts, reflecting the drop in learning across the country

 

The primary test for schools in Michigan is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Test scores statewide for this assessment dropped below those from 2019, which was the last year that the NAEP was administered.

Despite increasing in English MSTEP scores, Michigan scores fell by several percentage points in Social Studies and Math, according to Michigan’s Department of Education.

Despite increasing in English MSTEP scores, Michigan scores fell by several percentage points in Social Studies and Math, according to Michigan’s Department of Education.

According to MLive, “Michigan’s Department of Education is requiring 112 low-performing public schools in 54 districts around the state to enter into agreements with the state to improve students’ academic performance.”

 

Schools from 54 districts across the state were identified as an under-performing school by the Michigan Department of Education due to low test scores, but none of the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) were put on this list despite scores dropping over the course of the pandemic. 

 

“We fell pretty average with other schools. Obviously there was learning loss across the board,” said Loy Norrix Principal Christopher Aguinaga. 

 

But consistency was key during the pandemic, according to Aguinaga.

 

“We were very consistent on how we operated,” said Aguinaga. “We were closed that whole year, where some school districts did a pause, open, then close, then open, then close, and I feel like that lack of consistency is even harder for kids in learning.”

 

The 112 schools identified by the MDoE for low test scores is an increase from the 86 schools that were identified in the 2017-2018 school year, and with the numbers of flagged schools increasing so significantly, the effects of the pandemic are incredibly obvious.

 

Loy Norrix has hired new personnel intended to help students who were most impacted by the stalled learning, including Zachary Rickli, a Student Success Coach who aids struggling freshmen. 

 

“When meeting with Mr. Aguinaga and creating this role, we really wanted to get our hands on the kids who struggled with that year of online schooling,” Rickli continued, “and we had a lot of kids that came that year that came back into the building who were second year freshmen.” 

 

Rickli reaches out to students who did not have enough class credits in the 2021-2022 school year to move on to their sophomore year. 

 

“I’m here to help the ones who just need a little bit of help and that extra little bit of push and give them those tools to be successful and try to fill in that gap where they missed out on a year of being in the building and in high school,” Rickli said. 

 

Loy Norrix also added another position called a Character Development Coach, a position that Aguinaga describes as taking “some of those kids who are the highest fliers when it comes to behavioral issues. She’s gonna be working and mentoring those kids to help get them back on path,” Aguinaga said.

Despite the large-scale declines in test scores during the pandemic, some positives came out of the fully online school year.

 

“Every teacher had to learn very quickly a lot of new technology in the pandemic, and where I think that paid off after the pandemic is… a lot more stuff is online,” Aguinaga said. “I think that move to technology is something that our teachers utilize as a powerful tool now that we’re back in person, and I don’t think we would be at the place we are if it wasn’t for the pandemic.”

 

The pandemic gave a once in a century mountain to overcome, and despite the numerous issues presented, Loy Norrix retained its strong foundation. 

 

“We know we’re not going to solve our issues overnight,” said Aguinaga. “It’s going to take, for some kids who were out of school for 18 months, it’s going to take years to recover that learning loss.”

 

Despite the numerous challenges that the pandemic caused, especially to education and school testing, Norrix succeeded in preventing the mass slip of test scores that affected schools across the country. While Norrix’s test scores still declined, Norrix is committed to helping students who struggled over the pandemic.