For those of us who are involved with learning for students, we have seen a significant decline in learning during COVID-19. It is just hard to keep students engaged when they are isolated and solely online. Some students have done well and all of our students need to be affirmed for their efforts. It just isn’t easy to learn virtually at such a high rate of need for academic progress. Schools are feeling the loss of progress and we are still in recovery from this pandemic. Hopefully with some schools beginning to return to live school the academic progress will be more easily achieved.
In a recent article in the Hechinger Report, Jackie Mader writes a discussion about some possible helps for loss of learning issues. Here are some quotes from this article.
A deluge of data released late last year confirmed what has long been suspected: The coronavirus pandemic caused widespread learning loss while also amplifying gaps across racial and socioeconomic lines. The situation is especially concerning among younger children: one analysis of reading level data by Amplify Education, Inc., which creates curriculum, assessment and intervention products, found children in first and second grade experienced the most dramatic drops in grade level reading scores compared to previous years. This year, 40 percent of first grade students and 35 percent of second grade students are “significantly at risk” of needing intensive intervention compared to 27 percent and 29 percent last year.
Larry Berger, chief executive officer at Amplify, said the data reflect how the pandemic has interrupted schooling at a critical time for young children when they are learning basic reading skills and making rapid progress in the foundations of reading. For first graders especially, the kindergarten year was “seriously disrupted,” Berger said. “It would make sense that there would be a lot of kids who are just missing a bunch of those basic reading skills that are typically developed in kindergarten.”
Amplify isn’t alone in identifying this learning loss. Data analyzed by McKinsey & Company concluded that children have lost at least one and a half months of reading, with students of color faring worse. And some experts say the loss could be even worse because some of the most vulnerable students may not be regularly attending class online or taking assessments this year. “It’s hard to even test where kids are, and in the ways they are [usually tested] in the classroom,” said Adeola Whitney, chief executive officer of Reading Partners, a nonprofit that focuses on reading support and tutoring. While some reports suggest reading loss hasn’t been as bad as expected, Berger says Amplify’s data show reading achievement in the early years deserves a closer look. “The slide is substantial and it definitely has us asking, ‘is the country ready to try and close the gap of this scale?’”
The article goes on to propose what solutions educators are evaluating for how we can overcome these learning losses in the next phase of recovery from COVID-19. These discussions will be essential as we become intentional about how we can help our young students catch up from this period of loss that they have experienced. I appreciate this focus as we prepare for the re-opening of our schools. Hopefully we can help our students recapture the knowledge and skills they have lost.