On March 13, Keller, a second grader at Vermont’s Hinesburg Elementary, came home from school and didn’t return for six months. Like 20 million other students across the United States, Keller, with no preparation or warning, abruptly shifted to online learning.
Two hundred miles south of Hinesburg, Matt was a ninth grader when COVID-19 struck in Boston. Like Keller, he left school in mid-March and has not been back since. Thus began the most disruptive period in the history of American education.
Pick Boston, Hinesburg, or any other city or small town, and the story’s the same: Most students are learning less, and 10 percent of America’s K-12-aged students no longer attend class, either in-person or virtual.
Keller was one of the lucky ones. Unlike Matt and too many other children, he had a quiet place to work, parents able to help him, and reliable internet service.
The lost generation
Many other kids weren’t so lucky. Recent studies tell a troubling story about what’s happening with our children. A McKinsey report predicts that because of the pandemic’s disruption to America’s schools, students will lose 8-12 months of math, and the forecast for reading loss isn’t much better.