UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A presentation during Thursday night’s special meeting for the Union County Board of Education showed startling statistics proving students are failing at a higher rate this school year as a result of learning changes from the pandemic as compared to last school year.
The data listed the number of students failing at least one or more courses during the fall semester for grade levels 3-12. The result showed the total percent failing had more doubled from 9% last school year to 22% this school year.
“How much longer are we going to have these kids suffer?” Union County Board of Education member Rev. Jimmy H. Bention Sr., said.
Members of the board of education were in agreement that the best plan is to get students back into the classrooms learning full-time as quickly and as safely as possible. That notion further emphasized based on data that showed greater success and failing at a lesser rate for students who are learning all in-person, or a mix between in-person and virtual as compared to those students who are strictly learning virtually.
“Here are the stats the virtual team is losing and they are losing badly,” Bention said.
In a unanimous vote, the board approved federal funding from the CARES Act that would be divided among schools to provide resources to help correct the learning loss. But the money must be used in specific ways.
“Paying teachers and teachers assistance to tutor outside the school day and that would be nights and weekends,” Dr. Brad Breedlove, Chief Academic Officer of Union County Public Schools said.
Another option is to hire outside tutors as well including help from surrounding universities like Wingate who can offer resources they have from students majoring in education.
These extra lessons are expected to happen virtually or face to face in small groups or one on one sessions. Superintendent Andrew Houlihan also said the learning shouldn’t stop there.
“We’ve got to continue learning through the summer months,” Houlihan said. “ I think Dr. Breedlove said we’re working on a multi-week plan right now during the summer months to get the low-grade level children in at elementary, middle, and high.”
These additional programs also hope to be funded by additional money from the state and federal level in the future.