How has Covid-19 affected student performance?

“Data gaps” from 2020 and 2021 are preventing the GNWT from producing a comprehensive picture territory-wide, according to Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) spokesperson Melissa Bannister.

Because much of remote learning and operating schools during a pandemic is new territory, Bannister said ECE was still working to get a grasp of the impact of Covid-19 has had on learning.

However, Bannister assured that educators have an understanding of where students stand at a local level.

“Although the diploma exam and AAT (Alberta Achievement Tests) programs have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers continue to evaluate student learning and progress in relation to NWT curricular outcomes,” said Bannister. “This occurs continuously in a classroom setting, and teachers across the NWT have found ways to continue student assessment practice through distance learning when schools have had to close.”

Find more stories on NWT students advancing their education in the Degrees of Success 2022, available online here: See more: Degrees of Success 2022

With schools forced to move to remote learning in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of established grading systems have had to make major adjustments to tracking student progress. Diploma exams and AAT on students’ final grades have been cancelled for the start of 2022 due to the lack of in-class preparation. Last year, the weighting of the two exams was dramatically reduced, going from 30 per cent of the final mark to just 10 per cent. Schools also had the option to request exemptions for students or entire classes in the event a Covid-19 outbreak prevents adequate preparation for an exam.

Bannister said the department is hoping that the exams will return in June, though with the pandemic still ongoing, she noted that administrators need to be thinking on their feet.

“It should be noted that these programs require that tests be administered under test conditions with supervision, these conditions cannot be met in a distance education environment,” said Bannister. “Both the diploma exam and AAT programs have been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but this is a shared reality for jurisdictions across Canada and internationally.”

While she said attendance during remote learning periods is not recorded in the same way as during in-person learning, Beaufort Delta District Education Council superintendent Devin Roberts said the district was still aggressively tracking attendance on its own. Roberts noted that BDDEC recorded a 1.4 per cent decrease of students attending 90 per cent of the time or more and a four per cent decrease in overall attendance in 2020-21 compared to 2019-20.

“We continue to track our attendance. Student attendance is an essential part of the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council (BDDEC) Strategic Plan reported on in our annual reports,” he said. “We track the overall percentage of students that attend our schools and the percentage of students who attend 90 per cent or more.

“We will be collaborating with all our stakeholders to ensure student attendance improves as we pivot from remote learning to schools reopening across the district. We will be circulating our annual parents/guardians survey in March 2022 and welcome suggestions on how we can improve all elements of our BDDEC Strategic Plan, including student attendance.”

Roberts added that BDDEC staff will be following up with communities to determine how to best address any missed time in lessons due to shifts between remote and in-person learning.

Bannister added that there was a strong focus on addressing other important aspects of in-person schooling, such as social development, peer interaction and group learning. She noted that different age groups can have dramatically different needs.

“ECE and education bodies work closely during pivots to remote learning to best accommodate the needs of students while engaged in learning at home,” she said. “Some students engage in online learning, some receive paper learning packages and, for some, a blended approach is used to support the continuity of learning during times when schools are not open to in-person learning.

“Recognizing the impacts of moving between in-person and remote learning, the primary focus has been on ensuring the continuity of learning in the core subjects of language arts, mathematics, social studies and sciences.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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