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Oct. 14—More than 80% of Owensboro Catholic Schools students scored at or above grade level on their annual standardized tests that were taken in August and September.
Students also showed greater growth collectively this year than in the four previous school years, which OCS Chief Administrative Officer Keith Osborne said could be a positive attribute of the pandemic.
"Undoubtedly, COVID sparked a heightened level of engagement between parents, teachers and students out of concern that students would suffer academically," he said, adding that everyone from students and parents to educators "had a greater focus and appreciation for being in person, being in classes, which then led to even greater test scores."
Educators in Catholic schools in western Kentucky have been engaged in quarterly virtual meetings throughout the pandemic to compare notes, share ideas and offer support for one another about how best to help students.
"Catholic school students throughout the (Diocese of Owensboro) are reaping the benefits of teaching creativity, ingenuity and commitment to delivering in-person education," Osborne said.
He said learning of the positive test results was "surprising," considering the strife caused by the pandemic over the last 18 months, and that it is indicative of the level of support students, faculty and staff have had throughout trying times.
The support of parents, grandparents, alumni, business partners and community leaders was also unprecedented, he said.
"We remain grateful to the priest pastors who support OCS, and for the ongoing prayers of the faithful offered on our behalf," he said.
OCS uses the NWEA testing system to administer its annual tests for all students in preschool through 12th grade. NWEA is a research-based, nonprofit that creates assessments to help educators accurately measure student growth and success. It has been helping school systems for 40 years and is used in more than 9,500 schools, districts and education agencies in 145 countries, according to its website, nwea.org.
Specifically, Owensboro Catholic uses the NWEA's MAP tests to measure individual and class growth between each year and months of the year, as students take the tests at the beginning of the school year and toward the end. Students take multiple tests over multiple days so that OCS educators can see the full spectrum of results in multiple subjects.
With that information, Osborne said, educators can see where gaps in education exist and accurately get a glimpse on how students are doing "for better or for worse."
"You have to know where your strengths and weaknesses are," he said. "That knowledge can help educators develop the plan to help that individual student improve."
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315