Learning loss is a growing obstacle as students return to school in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic

Study shows major learning loss for grades K-2

Learning loss is a growing obstacle as students return to school in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic

Students will likely experience 2 to 4 months of learning loss as a result of COVID-19 disruptions, especially in grades K-2, according to a new report.

The findings from Illuminate Education highlight a need for additional instructional support this fall.

“The data are telling us what we already suspected: this fall, educators need to be ready to use the appropriate tools to identify and contend with student learning loss, particularly in grades K-2,” said Dr. John Bielinski, Illuminate Education’s senior director of research and development. “Now more than ever, screening will be instrumental in understanding where the biggest learning gaps are, and our team will be watching closely to provide guidance where we can with the most up-to-date information.”

Related content: Strategies to mitigate the COVID slide

Using data from its FastBridge platform, Illuminate Education compared scores in reading and math to estimate typical summer learning loss, and then calculated the learning attributed to instruction between spring 2019 and fall 2019 screening. National growth norms were used to produce a more precise estimate of learning loss absent formal classroom instruction and to project expected loss from school closures in March. Researchers plan to analyze early data from the schools that come back and screen in August to get a preliminary look at the effects of COVID-19 before analyzing a full data set later in the fall.

Findings indicate that while estimated score loss varied by assessment and grade level, students across the board will start the 2020-21 school year behind where they would be after a typical summer break.

Laura Ascione

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