Addressing learning loss: What Omaha Public Schools is doing

Nebraska data shows a detailed picture of OPS students’ decline in English and math proficiencies as a result of the pandemic.
We take a look inside our schools. Nationwide students' academic performance suffered because of the pandemic.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 5:54 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nationwide, students’ academic performance suffered from pandemic-related changes to their learning.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, U.S. public schools saw a historically large drop in math and reading scores.

At Omaha Public Schools, the percentage of students meeting proficiency standards in English and math also declined from the 2018-2019 school year to 2020-2021. According to the Nebraska Department of Education, the percentage of students proficient in English dropped by five percentage points and ten percentage points in math.

“When students aren’t in the classroom, they don’t have that community of learners. They may not have access to a teacher for immediate, descriptive feedback on their thinking. Sometimes we weren’t seeing the level of engagement perhaps that we wanted,” said Susanne Cramer, OPS Executive Director of School Improvement.

“Being in-person, being back, and having access to enriching learning experiences that are joyful and building that conceptual understanding is going to set them up for success,” she said.

Now students are back in the classroom. 6 News asked the district what they’re doing to help with academic recovery.

“We’re ensuring that we are implementing high-quality resources in every one of our classrooms, with a focus on early literacy and growth at our middle level in reading and in math,” said Cramer.

Some of the efforts include:

  • Expanded, targeted tutoring in and out of the classroom
  • An added month of summer learning
  • A “Portrait of a Graduate” campaign to set social and behavioral expectations

At Marrs Middle School, the dean of students said that the social component is key to cultivating an effective learning environment. Their ideal portrait of an OPS graduate looks like: “Being a critical thinker. Being able to communicate. Being able to collaborate with one another. Innovate new ideas. Being a civil and global contributor and a resilient achiever,” said Juanita DeLeon.

“So really placing those things into our lessons, making the students aware of what it is and also our teachers aware of what it is and incorporating that into our classrooms.”

The district received 280 million dollars from the federal government to support elementary and secondary schools recovery from pandemic-related learning loss. These programs and more are outlined in how they plan to use that money.

STAY WITH 6 NEWS: Numbers for the 2021-2022 school year are still to come. Get the latest updates on the data as 6 News continues to track the performance of students in the classroom.