Confronting Learning Loss after COVID-19

As we’ve written before, the virtual learning setups that permeated spring of 2020—with school districts quickly reinventing how to provide instruction, technology, and meals—were more akin to battlefield medicine, a triage-style solution meant to get through the end of the 2019-20 school year and think about 2020-21 later. 

Now 2020-21 is here, and education stakeholders—from district staff to policymakers to parents—know they’ll face more than the usual “summer slide” they see every fall. Truthfully, the full scope of the “COVID slide” will not be known for a while, but researchers have already started looking into it. 

  • A working paper put out by Annenberg Institute at Brown University used a series of projections to discover what the potential impacts of COVID-19 school closures might have on students’ academic achievements: “Under these projections, students are likely to return in fall 2020 with approximately 63–68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year and with 37–50% of the learning gains in math. However, we estimate that losing ground during the COVID-19 school closures would not be universal, with the top third of students potentially making gains in reading.” Click here to read the paper and learn more.
  • This essay from RAND Corporation, “The COVID Slide: How to Help Students Recover Learning Losses,” discusses how instituting summer learning programs going forward may be the key to getting students caught up and continuing to achieve.
  • From combatting inequities to the COVID-19 slide, and trauma, this Edutopia article “9 Big Questions Education Leaders Should Ask to Address COVID-19” breaks down all the topics and questions school districts and their communities will have to confront—and some of the tools we can use to do so.
  • Also on Edutopia, “COVID-19’s Impact on Students’ Academic and Mental Well-Being” dives into achievement gaps, the disproportionate impact on students of color and low-income students, student mental health, and three ways educators can prepare for these known issues.
  • From Language magazine, more than 500 education experts through the United States came together to endorse a recovery action plan for schools to use to help children recover from COVID-19 closures. These education experts put together specific recommendations that fall under seven themes. Click here to read more.
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