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CANTON, Miss.—The Mississippi Department of Education recently released statewide results from the 2020-2021 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) to the public. However, Mississippi’s public school districts have had access to their data since late summer. The Canton Public District has used its preliminary data to develop a comprehensive plan to address students’ learning loss. As seen across most of the state, the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected students’ academic performance. “There were several factors that led to a dip in our test scores,” said Superintendent Gary Hannah. “Our district was 100% virtual last school year, and there are some concepts in reading and mathematics that are difficult to teach in an online platform. Most of our students are accustomed to hands-on learning tools, especially in mathematics, and that was something that we could not do online. However, we do not regret our decision to remain virtual. We value the health of our students, staff, and community more than anything else. Now that we are back, we’re ready to close those gaps.” Hannah also counts the stress of change and getting acclimated to the district’s online learning management tools as factors that led to drops in some areas. The district saw its largest drop in mathematics proficiency. Proficiency in grades 3-8 mathematics and Algebra I dropped twenty-four points from 2019, the state’s last tested year, to the 2021 Spring assessments. “We started addressing our students’ mathematics gaps in early August by increasing the depth of our professional development for teachers and adding additional staff to raise the intensity of interventions at all schools as well as to impact more students. We are also planning afterschool tutorials, Saturday School, and extra pullouts,” Hannah explained. Amid steep declines in some areas, Canton Public School District also had some areas that were minimally affected by COVID-19. In 4th Grade ELA, the district was only eight points lower than the state’s proficiency average. Additionally, the district’s US History proficiency decreased by only three percentage points from 2019 to 2021. Superintendent Hannah believes that there is a positive aspect to almost every situation if you look closely enough. “I view this year as an opportunity to soar higher than we ever have. Our students, teachers, and administrators were so excited to return to in-person learning. I have seen a fire in our buildings that is a result of sheer determination and perseverance. We expect to experience gains over not only our 2021 performance but our 2019 performance as well.”