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Alpha Plus Blog

Our latest press releases, and Oklahoma Education news. Subscribe for our teaching tips and resources for school improvement.

Oklahoma's pandemic learning gaps in 2020-21 so far

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 16, 2021
Contact: Jan Barrick or Rachel Watson, (405) 842-8408

COVID-19 learning gaps less than expected in Oklahoma schools
using OAS-aligned benchmarks

Analysis of midyear benchmark data from summative assessments aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS) found students in Grades 3-8 statewide performing on par with students in the same or similar public schools last year.

“All schools have had limited class time and most are struggling with various forms of distance learning but, in aggregate, student learning loss caused by the pandemic not been as great as expected in schools using OAS-aligned tools,” Alpha Plus CEO Jan Barrick explained. “Teachers trained to address summer learning loss and close academic gaps every year prioritize essential skills required in state standards. They use data by OAS objective to differentiate instruction.”

Alpha Plus assessments have been aligned to OAS and administered online for five years making the data reliable for comparison over time. Summative benchmarks offer precise identification of gaps between what a student knows and what the state of Oklahoma expects them to have learned in any school year.

“While students in Grades 3-8 started out with slightly lower baseline scores in the fall, they grew a little more than students had by mid-January last year,” Barrick said.

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Math scores were higher and showed more growth than reading this January but performance was consistent with January 2020. For both sets of benchmarks, students’ fall baseline was just 3 percent lower but growth from fall to winter was 1 percent higher. According to a Dec. 2020 report in Education Week, the expected COVID-19 learning loss was 2.5 to 4.5 months in reading and six months to a year in math. However, on benchmarks aligned to OAS, the difference in Oklahoma student scores from last year to this was not statistically significant.

“Our team was surprised at how well some schools are doing in spite of the pandemic yet the data is consistent,” Barrick said. “This is likely because of vertical alignment in the standards and because many of these educators have been using our OAS-aligned curriculum for a number of years.”

Whether because of the pandemic or individual medical issues, ice storms or summer vacation, identifying learning gaps for each student is a key challenge all educators face every year. Teachers and parents need specific, current data – now more than ever – to pinpoint the knowledge and skills students have missed.

- About Alpha Plus -

In 2020-21, more than 12,900 students are using Alpha Plus Online interim assessments statewide. Founded in 1990 by an Oklahoma teacher, Alpha Plus curriculum and teaching tools are aligned solely to Oklahoma Academic Standards. The Oklahoma City firm’s Success with OAS mathematics and reading series is written by Oklahoma teachers for Oklahoma students. For more about Alpha Plus, please visit www.alphaplus.org

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We Use Data to Help Schools Make the Grade!

Teachers and administrators can quickly and easily identify students who need more help learning the Oklahoma Academic Standards.

Alpha Plus pinpoints the SPECIFIC OAS objectives or "gaps" students have from previous years, then helps school teams address each objective throughout the year.

That is why Alpha Plus schools have OUTPERFORMED the state average every year of the A-F Report Cards.