DeWine reaffirmed his commitment to getting students back to in-person learning by March by expanding the investment in student wellness and success programs to $1.1B. A December study by ODE found schools and districts used student wellness and success funds to start more than 3,000 separate initiatives, such as building onsite health clinics, counseling, and after school programs, which serve over a million Ohio children.
DeWine asked that school districts design plans to meet the needs of the students in their districts that include ending the school year later than scheduled, beginning the new year early, or even extending the school day. Summer programs, tutoring, or remote options could also be considered, and these plans should be provided to the public and General Assembly no later than Thursday, April 1.
State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria discussed 2020 enrollment and assessment data from ODE. This showed:
- A 3% overall decrease in enrollment with the greatest concentration in pre-school and kindergarten likely because some parents opted to hold off on starting their children in school during the pandemic.
- The kindergarten readiness assessment has expectedly lower scores, particularly among minority students and disadvantaged students.
- On the third-grade test, there was an 8% drop in the number of students scoring "proficient or better" from 45% in the fall of 2019 to 37% in the fall of 2020.
- 87% of districts had a decrease in their percentage of students scoring "proficient or better" between 2019 and 2020.
- Fully remote districts third grade proficiency rates decreased more substantially by about 12%, as compared to about an 8% drop in districts using primarily a five day in-person model.
- There was an 80% student participation for the assessments compared to 90 or 95% in a traditional year because the department promoted a "safety first" mentality. Students were not forced to take assessments and districts were not forced to bring students back to take them if they did not feel it was safe.
- 45 % of Ohio students were attending school remotely full-time, but less than 15% of students are still attending classes completely online currently. The number of districts that are fully remote has similarly moved from 219 in the first week of January to only 35.