The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released student test performance results for the 2021-2022 school year on Sept. 1. 

In Guilford County Schools, results have improved from the previous year, but are still below pre-pandemic levels. 

About 47% of students in the district were proficient in their end-of-grade or end-of-course tests last school year. 

That's an improvement from the 2020-2021 year when about 42% of students were proficient, but not quite up to 55% from the 2018-2019 school year.

With all of the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, including staff shortages, student quarantining, rolling school closures, and mental health challenges, district leaders are not surprised by these figures. 

Chief Performance Officer Sonya Stephens says schools in Guilford County were hit even harder than other areas. 

“What we know is that GCS schools are impacted more because of the concentrated poverty that continues to exist in Guilford County as compared to other counties in North Carolina,” Stephens said. “We know the impact poverty has on student achievement.”

Still, the district celebrated some successes. There was a record-high graduation rate last school year of 91.8%. Black and Hispanic students also had the highest graduation rate in district history. 

New Superintendent Whitney Oakley says there is still much work to be done to close learning gaps. Looking ahead, she says the district will focus on providing a high-quality curriculum, training for teachers, and tutoring for every student in need. 

“We're going to continue to focus on that as we move forward, understanding that it's going to take more than a year, more than a summer school,” Oakley said. “The national research is telling us that we have several years ahead of us before we're able to get back to pre-pandemic levels.”

Data for school districts in North Carolina can be found on the state's Department of Public Instruction website.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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