The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked academic havoc. With schools closed around the country, more than 55 million students needed services from afar. And who knows what the fall will bring. Will schools open? Will online learning continue?
And then the bigger question: How far behind did students fall?
In a recent edWebinar, “Articulating a Plan for Addressing Interrupted Learning: Best Teacher Practices for Back-to-School 2020,” NWEA Strategic Content Design Coordinator Brooke Mabry highlighted instructional approaches that can fill COVID-driven academic gaps and put every student on a fast track to grade level. However it shakes out, the school day has been redefined. These few months of interrupted education call for a rethinking of how students learn.
The restart plan
Mabry said that learning loss, typically a summer phenomenon, has exploded during the COVID crisis. She urged schools to adopt a “restart plan” early to close substantial learning gaps.
The first critical step is to focus on accelerated learning to help students complete unfinished grade-level content. “Doubling down on current strategies to catch students up will widen the opportunity gap and result in lost academic ground,” emphasized Mabry, especially for vulnerable students. Instead, instructional leaders should meet students where they are to bring them up to speed.