How teachers will make up for lost learning time

Educators want to start instruction on grade level or where classes left on in the spring
By: | May 4, 2020
Students in Florida’s St. Lucie Public Schools will get help from a range of supports should they suffer learning loss during school closures.Students in Florida’s St. Lucie Public Schools will get help from a range of supports should they suffer learning loss during school closures.

To recover from the learning loss caused by coronavirus school closures—also known as the “COVID slide”—teachers and administrators are now trying to determine where instruction should start in the new school year.

Many educators prefer beginning with instruction on grade level or resuming with what was being taught when schools closed, according to a survey by the Collaborative for Student Success, a nonprofit education advocacy organization.

“Given the anticipated learning setback, we hope districts and states will remain open to all options, from extending the school year to creating differentiated, flexible, and personalized plans,” Jim Cowen, the Collaborative’s executive director, said in a statement. “But whatever option pursued, we hope that every effort is made to help students make up for this unprecedented disruption to learning.”

Only 15% of teachers and 28% of administrators surveyed supported extending the school year though more than half of the advocates and policymakers surveyed backed the idea.


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While a small number of educators said students should be allowed to repeat a grade, many support having states create an assessment to gauge learning loss, the survey found.

“States should have an assessment in place with the primary goal of benchmarking the breadth and scope of learning loss and allowing teachers to personalize instruction,”  Cowen said.

Summer school & the COVID slide

Research on summer learning loss shows that a much greater “COVID-19” slide could occur when students now taking online classes return to school, according to report released by the testing nonprofit, NWEA, in April.

“Preliminary COVID slide estimates suggest students will return in fall 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year,” researchers with the nonprofit testing organization wrote in the study. “However, in mathematics, students are likely to show much smaller learning gains, returning with less than 50% of the learning gains and in some grades, nearly a full year behind.”


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Many districts plan to expand summer school offerings to help students catch up.

Florida’s St. Lucie Public Schools, for example, is opening its elementary school literacy camp and eighth-grade credit recovery programs to more students.

If the program has to be taught fully online, students will get a laptop and a workbook, and lessons will be streamed and broadcast on the district’s TV station, Chief Academic Officer Helen Wild says.

“Students will get to know a teacher for their grade level,” Wild says. “They will watch lessons every day, which will coincide with their curriculum.”


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.


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