Some Students Lose More Ground When School is Out

Portland, Ore. — April 14, 2022 — As we approach the end of the third straight year of learning disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. classrooms continue to address the immediate needs of students while prioritizing academic progress for all. For many students—particularly those that are historically underserved—the summer break from learning perpetuates inequitable achievement gaps.

This insight was among those released today by  NWEA in an  overview of current  research studies that examined K-8 student progress during a typical school year (non pandemic) and over the summer. The research reveals important information about the degree to which being in school reduces achievement gaps and points to the importance of high-quality summer programming in supporting student success.

“Our research analysis revealed reasons for both optimism and concern. While the findings disrupt some long-held deficit-based thinking about some of these student groups, they also demonstrate the disproportionate impact that learning interruptions have on their achievement in the long-term, making high quality summer learning opportunities and other interventions critical,” said Lindsay Dworkin, VP of Policy and Advocacy at NWEA. “Taken collectively, these studies can help education leaders and policymakers identify interventions needed for these student groups to help address the inequitable learning patterns in U.S. public schools.”…Read More

When it comes to learning loss, don’t reinvent the wheel

As we head towards the last half of our second school year in a pandemic, there is no doubt that the impact of learning loss has exceeded all predictions. As reported by McKinsey,  students are behind an average of four months in reading and five months in math. Unfortunately, the pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. In math, students in majority black schools ended the year with six months of unfinished learning; students in low-income schools with seven.  

Helping students catch up and keep up is a challenge many schools are just starting to tackle now that they’ve navigated the logistics of teaching and learning in a (hopefully) waning pandemic.  

Unfortunately, we are already seeing the best intentions and worst habits of problem-solving work their way into resolving student learning loss. Everyone wants to do something big and sweeping to ‘fix’ the issue.  …Read More

The other gap that schools aren’t talking about—relationships

The NAEP scores released in April set off a flurry of headlines about the sobering state of achievement gaps across the nation. The general consensus? Despite pockets of promise, and slight declines in gaps by race, achievement data reveal that gaps by income have remained relatively flat, or uneven at best.

The news for young people on the wrong side of these gaps, however, may be worse. Measuring opportunity in terms of household income or school quality, as education reformers are prone to do, doesn’t paint the whole picture. Students today are competing on an even more complex playing field, one that’s often masked by statistics on income and achievement gaps. A well-resourced childhood introduces a whole new set of inequities between rich and poor students, and those whose parents have or have not earned college degrees: social gaps.

Gaps in students’ networks matter immensely in both immediate and longer-term measures. Research groups like the Search Institute have shown that developmental relationships drive everything from higher grades to persistence in school. Down the line, an estimated 50 percent of jobs come through personal relationships.…Read More

2017 Innovative Educator Grant Program

The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning’s 2017 Innovative Educator Grant Program identifies and supports school and classroom leaders developing practices or programs to overcome achievement gaps, drive engagement, and personalize learning for their students. One-time grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to winning proposals.

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How ESSA will boost ed-tech funding

The Every Student Succeeds Act includes block grants intended for technology, among other uses. It also opens the door to new state testing systems

essa-ed-techEight years after the No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to expire, Congress finally passed a bill to replace it—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—that gives states more latitude in deciding how to close achievement gaps. The legislation also includes a sizeable state block-grant program intended for technology, among other uses.

Although it’s not the program that ed-tech advocates had hoped for, many expressed cautious optimism that a section of ESSA under Title IV (“21st Century Schools”) could help schools use technology tools to transform teaching and learning.

“We’re pleased that the federal government has renewed its commitment to funding educational technology,” said Lan Neugent, interim executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, in an interview. “It’s great to see that become a priority again.”…Read More

Black, Latino students perform at levels of 30 years ago

Educators are expressing alarm that the performance gap between minority and white high school students continues to expand across the United States, with minority teenagers performing at academic levels equal to or lower than those of 30 years ago, America’s Wire reports. Despite the hope that improving education for children of color would propel them to better life outcomes, Latino and African-American students are not being prepared in high school classrooms for brighter futures. While achievement levels have improved considerably for minority elementary and middle school students, educators say their academic performance drops during high school years. How prevalent is the achievement gap at the high school level?

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