Covid Slide in Learning
Test Scores Reveal the Impact the Pandemic Has Had on Kids’ Education
The Coronavirus pandemic thrust the world into chaos, the ripple effect is still being felt, and will continue to do so. Children were harshly and abruptly challenged with the school closures and changes to the educational system in an attempt to accommodate the danger the virus poses. Many schools have reopened and are attempting to resume status quo.
Many predicted some kind of “Covid slide” mimicking the annual phenomenon that is seen when students are out of the classroom, referred to as “summer slide”. Summer Slide means a slip in elementary, middle, and high school students’ academic progress in the months their school is not in session. For decades, researchers have studied the concept and tried to examine the degree of the problem, students most heavily impacted, and tie to age. However, while most of the data is inconclusive, a 2020 study found that during the summer, most students lost some of their school year gains, with greater losses for math than reading; the losses diminished over time, but to a lesser degree than the school-year gains. The studies haven’t provided much helpful information about what to anticipate from the Coronavirus pandemic and school closures.
Schools districts are finding they need to be able to pivot rapidly to accommodate the effects of the pandemic. As the resurgence of the disease is worsening, school districts must be on top of the risk that it poses to their students. Mask mandates, screen shields, eating lunches in the classroom, and quarantining at home are all techniques being used to try to slow the spread of the disease.
Through all of this though, the schools must worry about how to help with their students’ retention and progress. While the age of technology has made a huge difference in how we have all been able to get on with our lives during the pandemic, there are still some significant disadvantages to remote learning for many children.
For some, virtual learning was nearly impossible, leading to plummeting grades, retention rates, and test scores, while also increasing dropout rates and likelihood of not pursuing secondary education.
When the pandemic first began, it resulted in school closures, then virtual learning was adopted. Remote education is something that most school districts and educators were ill-prepared for and was a tremendous adjustment for them. Challenges were also presented when children lacked proper equipment (eg high-speed internet or computers) or parents were unable to help them stay on task.
As children returned to school this fall, we have seen the results of the phenomenon being referred to as the Covid Slide. Test scores have fallen, demonstrating how little information many children were able to retain during their virtual learning experience.
NWEA, formerly the Northwest Evaluation Association, developed assessments that measure individual student achievements and place them relative to their peers in a grade. The tests are done voluntarily by schools nationwide three times a year.
Reading scores in the fall of 2020 had been largely on par with previous years, but by the spring of 2021, reading scores were between 3 and 6 percentile points lower.
And the NWEA analysis found median math achievement dropped 8-12 percentile points compared to pre-pandemic levels. Testing trends are highly varied across ages, races, and socioeconomic groups. However, some schools have found that, fortunately, they are still within national norms, a welcome surprise.
Teachers are modifying lesson plans and receiving extra support to figure out how to best assist their students move forward and succeed. Techniques are also being modified as needed, for example breaking up into smaller groups, as well as adopting modifications that were beneficial during the pandemic.
As with everything else with the Coronavirus pandemic, teachers and schools are learning to roll with the punches, embrace effective change, and modify where necessary. Children’s success is being supported with extra funding and programs presented to supplement the education gaps. With students’ emotional and mental health of primary concern, extra steps are also being taken to prepare for how educators can best aid their charges in those respects.
In an effort to deal with the Covid Slide, Florida is permitting parents of public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade to request that their child repeat a grade for the current school year or have a customized plan.
Only time will tell the full story of the Covid Slide and its effects on our children’s education. In the meantime, there are steps we can take to try to minimize the negative impact. Go to the Shamrck Dashboard today to explore the career path, classes, and other resources that can best aid your child.
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