Sen. Shervin Jones hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and teachers from across the state to discuss education during the pandemic.
Teachers submitted questions for the Education Commissioner in advance and Jones’ office compiled the list.
The conversation focused primarily on K-12 education.
Top of mind for teachers were missing students and state testing. Teachers said some students did not return to school when they reopened, and teachers said they are concerned state test results will be affected.
Corocoran said about 80,000 students are missing from school statewide, but said that number could be inflated. Corcoran said many of those students are rising kindergarteners whose parents decided not to send them to school for safety reasons, and others are students who moved to a homeschool setting, but their parents did not properly report the change to schools.
“Once we see what those numbers are, I think it will give us a better chance to go out there and find those children and make sure that they’re getting a proper education,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran said test results are an important way to measure progress, even if the results show students are behind.
“We have to confront the brutal facts, and to know the brutal facts we have to get some sort of measurement,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran hinted at leniency in instances where test results are poor.
“Let’s see where we’re at, and then we will make decisions based on that that are absolutely fair and just,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran also said funding from the CARES Act helped keep schools running smoothly last year.
Corcoran also praised teachers for their “great work” and said open dialogue, like the roundtable discussion, is important during this pandemic.
“The best thing to do when you’re in this kind of a crisis is to stay on the same team and try to get everybody’s input,” Corcoran said.