Learning Progress during COVID at Madison’s One City Elementary School

One City Schools Staff, August 2021 (Note: Masks were removed only briefly for this photo)

September 10, 2021

Dear Greater Madison Community.

In February 2021, we wrote about what One City Schools did to keep our preschool and elementary open during the entire 2020–21 school year. We are pleased to share new information with you about the learning growth of our young scholars at One City Elementary School during the 2020–21 COVID-19 school year. The data is very encouraging but there are some caveats to make note of.

The charts below show the learning growth, in aggregate, among One City students in reading and mathematics in kindergarten, first and second grades during the 2020–21 school year. One City uses the MAP Growth Assessment to monitor the learning growth of our students during the school year.

Background of One City Schools Students:

In 2020–21, One City Schools enrolled 162 students: 134 in our public charter elementary school (grades 4K — 2) and 28 in our independent preschool (ages 2 and 3). One City Elementary School is the only public school in Wisconsin offering both a longer school year (219 vs 180 days) and longer school day (8.5 hours vs 6.5 hours). You can learn more about our unique schools at www.onecityschools.org.

One City’s grades 4K — 2 racial demographics during the school year :

  • 54.5% Black/African American (n = 73 students)
  • 14.2% Hispanic/Latino (n = 19 students)
  • 13.4% White, Not Hispanic/Latino (n = 18 students)
  • 10.4% Multiracial (n = 14 students)
  • 5.2% Unknown (n = 7)
  • 2.2% Asian/Asian American (n = 3 students)

A few other notes on the data:

  1. The charts above compare the growth rates of One City Elementary School students in grades K, 1 and 2 with students in other schools that use MAP nationally in grades 3 to 8. This is because most public schools do not assess students growth using MAP for grades younger than 3rd grade. As a result, the national studies, referenced in our ‘sources’ below, that were used to create the comparisons presented in the charts above do not allow for complete apples-to-apples comparisons. It is also worth noting in the NWEA study (referenced in ‘sources’ below) that the youngest students within the 3rd to 8th grade sample suffered larger losses than the older studens. Therefore, referencing One City’s growth rates in grades K to 2 with students and other schools in grades 3 to 8, in our view, is a reasonable benchmark.
  2. Sixty-nine percent (70%) of One City’s 4K through 2nd grade students (n = 94) were learning in-person while 30% were learning virtually (n = 40 students).
  3. There were 64 students learning in-person in grades K, 1 and 2 during the 2020–21 school year.
  4. The charts include only students who completed the baseline assessment at the beginning of the 2020–21 school year and a post-assessment in the spring/summer 2021.
  5. The attached reading scores include 89% of our students who were learning in-person in grades K, 1 and 2 in 2020–21 (n = 57 of 64 in-person students).
  6. The attached math scores include 94% of our students who were learning in-person in grades K, 1 and 2 in 2020–21 (n = 60 of 64 in-person students).
  7. Only 5 students that were learning virtually during the 2020–21 school year completed two assessments. The majority did not, and therefore are not reflected in this data.
  8. Many paMany parents whose children were learning virtually were reluctant to bring them to our school facility for testing, and One City did not require children to complete the assessment last year.

In summary, in the midst of a global pandemic and the myriad challenges operating a school during our current public health crisis has presented, One City students continued to make solid progress in reading and math, and more progress than students were making nationally before COVID-19 derailed K12 education in America.

BTW, I would like to thank Faren D’Abell, One City’s Elementary School Principal, Vivek Ramakrishnan, One City’s co-founder and VP of Special Projects and, Dr. Wajiha Akhtar-Khaleel, a One City Board member and parent, for partnering to analyze our MAP data and prepare these charts.

Please let us know if you have any questions. You can reach Principal D’Abell at fdabell@onecityschools.org or (608) 268–8004.


Kaleem Caire, Founder and CEO, One City Schools, Madison, WI


  1. About the MAP Growth Assessment, NWEA Website
  2. Learning during COVID-19: Reading and Math Achievement in the 2020–21 School Year, NWEA Center for School and Student Progress, July 2021
  3. Spring 2020–21 COVID-19 Performance Impact Report, The Center for Charter Schools, Central Michigan University, July 2021
  4. Many predicted some kind of ‘COVID slide’ in learning. Test results show how bad it is, CNN, August 25, 2021

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