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Massive learning setbacks show COVID is taking a toll on children

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only closed schools, it has also destroyed the well-being of poor children by robbing parents of jobs, making families and teachers sick, and adding chaos and fear to their daily lives.

The scale of the disruption to America’s children’s education is evident in a district-by-district analysis of test scores shared exclusively with The Associated Press. most comprehensive.

Analysis found that the average student is missing more than half a grade in math and almost a quarter of a grade in reading. On average, some districts have more than doubled these amounts, or even worse.

online learning played a big rolebut students lost considerable ground, especially in math scores in low-income communities, even where they returned to school quickly.

Sean Reardon, a professor of education at Stanford University who compiled and analyzed the data with Harvard economist Thomas Cain, said, “When a major crisis strikes, the worst effects are felt by those with the least resources. will be.”

Some educators object to the very idea of ​​measuring learning losses after a crisis. killed over a million AmericansReading and math scores don’t tell the whole story of what’s going on with a child, but they’re one of the only aspects of a child’s development reliably measured nationally.

“It’s not just the test scores that matter,” says Reardon. “But they serve as indicators of how the kids are doing.”

Also, children are not doing well, especially those who were most at risk before the pandemic. Data show that many children need significant intervention, and advocates and researchers say the United States is not doing enough.

Reardon and Kane worked together to create a map showing how many years of learning the average student in each school district has lost since 2019. their project is Education Recovery Scorecarda comparison result from A test called “National Report Card” Using local standardized test scores from 29 states and Washington DC

In Memphis, Tennessee, nearly 80% of students were poor, and students lost 70% of their school year. read More than a year in mathematics, according to the analysis. A black student in the district lost a year in math, he a third, and two-thirds a year in reading.

For Charles Lumpkin, a black church minister, it was the effect on his sons’ reading that caught his attention. As he studied the Bible with them one evening this fall, he discovered that his sixth grade and his seventh grade were written in a “junior” version of the Bible written for a fifth grade reading level. I realized I was having a hard time. “They just couldn’t get over it,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin blames his sons for being away from school for a year and a half from March 2020 to fall 2021.

“They weren’t involved at all. It was all a joke,” he said.

Officials at the local Shelby County Public Schools did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment. did. Most of the tutored students focused on the arts of English, but not on mathematics, and Lumpkin said his sons were provided with no additional help. said no.

There was wide variation in the amount of learning that students lost or gained infrequently over the past three years. Kane and Reardon’s analysis found that poverty and time spent on distance learning affected learning losses, and learning losses were greater in districts that stayed online longer. It didn’t quite predict a decline in math.

Data show that in some school districts, students lost more than two years of math learning. Hopewell, Virginia lost on average her 2.29 school years in her school system of 4,000 students, mostly low-income and 60% black.

“This is far from what we wanted,” said Deputy Superintendent Jay McClain.

Although the district began offering in-person learning in March 2021, three-quarters of students stayed home. “There was a lot of fear about the impact of COVID,” he said. “The family here was just hiding.”

When schools reopened in the fall, the virus swept Hopewell, with half of all students staying home sick or in quarantine, McClane said. I have been absent for 18 days or more.

The pandemic has brought another challenge unrelated to distance learning.

In Rochester, New Hampshire, students lost reading for nearly two years, even though schools offered in-person learning for most of the 2020-2021 school year. This was the largest drop in literacy among all districts analyzed.

The 4,000 student district, mostly white and nearly half living in poverty, had to close schools in November 2020, according to superintendent Kyle Leppucci. Learning online through March 2021, many chose to continue remote learning when schools reopened, Repucci said.

“Students here were being exposed to things they never should have been exposed to until much later,” Leppucci said. “Dead. Seriously ill. Working to support my family.”

In Los Angeles, school leaders closed classrooms for the entire 2020-2021 school year, but students continued to read.

It’s hard to explain why results vary so much in some states. In California, where students remained stable on average or declined only slightly, it suggests that educators are teaching better than Zoom or that the state is making effective investments in technology. There could be, says Reardon.

But the difference can also be explained by what happened outside of school. “I think a lot of the variation has to do with things outside the school’s control,” Reardon said.

The responsibility now rests with American adults to work toward the recovery of children. Federal and individual state advocates hope the recent release of test data will increase the urgency to provide direct funding to students who have suffered the greatest setbacks, whether academic or otherwise. I’m here.

The school system is still spending nearly $190 billion in federal relief funds allocated for recovery, and experts say this amount fails to address the extent of the learning loss in schools. According to Kane and Reardon’s analysis, nearly 70% of his students live in districts where federal relief money is likely insufficient to address the scale of their learning losses.

The impact on children’s futures is alarming. Low test scores not only lead to lower wages, but also higher rates of incarceration and teenage pregnancy, Kane said.

It doesn’t take a Harvard study to convince parents of children who have trouble learning to read, write, or learn algebra that something needs to be done.

Lumpkin started a tutoring program at his church in Memphis three nights a week. Adults in his congregation, some of whom are teachers, help about 50 students with their homework, reinforce their skills, and teach them new skills.

“We didn’t have to do this,” Lumpkin said. “But sometimes you have to lead by example.”


The Associated Press education team is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/10/28/massive-learning-setbacks-show-covids-sweeping-toll-on-kids/ Massive learning setbacks show COVID is taking a toll on children

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