Hinton, WV (WVNS) – It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic devastated communities across the globe. 

Homes, businesses, schools and just about every career and job was impacted. Here in the United States, one field hit especially hard was the education field.

One study conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Society, found test scores dropped significantly from Fall of 2019 to Fall of 2021. The study examined math and reading scores during that time across 5.4 million U.S. students.

David Warvel, Superintendent for Summers County, was first hired as the Superintendent during the Summer of 2020. He said he is not surprised by the drop in performance, but trying to navigate an unprecedented school year was nearly impossible. 

“There was no playbook for this. I mean, when was the last pandemic, none of us were around for that. That was a 100 years ago. And this graduating class will be the first class to have four years of their high school year during a pandemic” Warvel said.

4th graders in West Virginia ranked near the bottom of their test results in 2022, according to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Math scores ranked second to last and reading scores ranked third to last when looking at all 50 states.

For Kristin Richmond, Elementary Education Specialist for Summers County, it was a tough time trying to teach given the new remote-learning strategies.

Combined with the mental health struggles that many students were facing during that time, she said there were noticeable gaps and changes. 

“We have a lot of students who have a lot of worries about adult problems and about big things they’ve had to deal with during COVID or things that happened as a result of COVID. We have to help them learn how to navigate. We have students who lost their parents during COVID and that’s life changing” Richmond said.

It was not just elementary schools that took a dip in test scores. The pandemic also impacted middle school and high schools in the mountain state.

The same assessment found 8th graders scored second to last in both reading and math, only above New Mexico in both.

Christie Shafer, Middle and High School Education Specialist for Summers County, said she was part of the technology team in Summers County when the pandemic began. She said the adjustment was not only difficult for students, but also for parents and teachers alike.

“It was a huge learning curve for everyone. Parents weren’t trained, you figured it out as you went. The kids were trying to figure it out, the teachers were trying to figure it out,” Shafer said. “There were huge learning curves and everyone did the best that they could.”

With these newfound gaps in education, schools are working to figure out strategies to self-correct. Warvel told us he is implementing a coordination between Summers County schools and the June Harless Center out of Marshall University.

Through this coordination, they are hoping to implement tools in the classrooms that work best for teaching students and then use those same tools to help other classrooms.

“Do it like a reciprocating saw. Back and forth and reciprocate that data to one and another and see what we’re doing in the classroom. If you start seeing some things that are really good teaching, then let’s use that throughout the whole county” Warvel said.

At this time, the coordination is still in its beginning phase, but Warvel believes it can be successful. He said only through everyone working as a team can this coordination be successful.

All for the hope of benefiting the next generation of students.