Not surprisingly, recent data out of the Kirkwood School District shows that students are worse off following a year of learning in the pandemic environment.

Kirkwood School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Bryan Painter reported at the July 12 board of education meeting that students in kindergarten and first grade were the most affected, with sharp declines in kindergarten and first grade reading scores, as well as first grade math scores. While not as dramatic, literacy scores were also down across upper elementary and middle school students.

Many high school students struggled with engagement during online learning and even following the return to in-person classes, with freshmen struggling the most. Painter said one in 10 non-Black students failed at least one class last school year, with one in four Black students failing at least one. 

Painter added that students identifying as Black or African American, as well as those with learning disabilities, were impacted disproportionately by the pandemic, though a moderate recovery was recorded following a return to in-person learning.

As part of an effort to mitigate learning loss for all students, the Kirkwood School District will implement a new literacy program beginning next school year. In addition to new literacy tools, teachers will also study the science of reading, classrooms will utilize consistent programming district wide, and schools will begin a conscious effort to renew classroom libraries.