In August, Superintendent Brian Shumate acknowledged that like all schools in the state, the COVID-19 pandemic had played a role in lower test scores from the Georgia Milestones Assessment.
A major difference in the results, however, was that TCSS only experienced that the number of tested students decreased by 9% between 2021 and 2019, while the state experienced 36% fewer tested students overall. There was no GMAS assessment in 2020.
Shumate wanted every single student to test, even virtual students who were not required to take the assessment, to get an idea of where TCSS stood overall. In an interview in January, Shumate updated The LaGrange Daily News with how he felt the Omicron rise had affected the school system.
At that point, the school system returned from the winter break, and Shumate said he was happy with his decision to continue learning personally.
“I’m a little more of the mindset kids need to be in school. I’m fine, even though we’ve had learning losses. We have done an equally good job as any of, I would say, protecting the social [and] children’s emotional health, ”Shumate said.
Shumate said the school system worked hard to accommodate their students when the pandemic first hit. He said he does not think TCSS lost touch with as many students as schools across the country did.
“We leaned back and provided food [and] we checked every child. We got them all in test last spring. People are talking about losing all these kids around the country, we did not lose them. We lost a few, he said.
Shumate said the school board will continue to focus on academic achievement and hopes to see some progress in test results this spring.
“We’re really trying to focus on academic achievement, reading skills, math comprehension and really going into the spring when we start taking these government assessments and so on and doing really well. I’m looking for some focused progress with all our teaching programming,” said Shumate.
Joshua Moneypenny, director of technology for TCSS, said in November that one of the most important ways in which the school system adapted to the pandemic was to implement a new management system and enable technology to enable virtual schooling.
“Most of what we did because of the pandemic was that we implemented a new learning management system,” Moneypenny said. “[It] allowed, especially in the early days, [for] the virtual school was going to happen, which was something we were going to do from scratch. This included training all the teachers, and then the next thing we focused on was getting a Chromebook for each student. “
Moneypenny also said the technology department will expand to accommodate teachers and students who may run into problems with the technology.
“We are expanding our department so that we can have a dedicated technician at each middle and high school. That way, we can offer much faster response time for teachers and students when it comes to problems, ”said Moneypenny.
Moneypenny said the school system will focus on student safety with the new technology.
“We try to focus on student safety. We have a lot of security measures in place to protect the students while they are on the internet, ”he said. “We’re launching some additional features that allow parents to control the Internet on their student’s Chromebook while at home [and] beyond our control. “
Shumate said part of the TCSS culture has been to be adaptable and easy so they can make changes and have adequate resources.
“It has become part of our culture to be more adaptable and easy on our feet to ensure that we can make changes quickly and decisively and that we have enough resources,” he said. “We are ready to adapt to the new world as a result of the pandemic better than we have probably ever been before.”