Learning Loss & COVID-19

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COVID-19 has made for a chaotic spring semester, with over 1.5 billion children out of school worldwide. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of COVID-19 is its effect on subsequent school years. In addition to higher stress levels and decreased social interactions, students are experiencing a steep decline in learning and retention because of school closures; however, this phenomenon is not unique to this year. Every summer, students experience what researchers call the “summer slide.” According to a study done by the Collaborative for Student Growth, COVID-19 closures will amplify this summer slide and adversely affect student achievement for years to come. 

Although learning loss will affect every student in some way, the predictions point toward particularly drastic effects for older students. Furthermore, research projections indicate steeper declines in student achievement in math compared to reading. Researchers and policymakers have also raised concerns about learning gaps as student progress from one grade level to the next without mastering this semester’s content. To make matters worse, most school districts remain uncertain about when schools will officially reopen, which could exacerbate this already alarming issue. 

Providing students with effective support this summer is imperative to alleviate the aptly named “COVID-19 Slide”. Engaging students in enrichment programs, subject remediation courses, and the like is the perfect antidote to learning loss. We know the prospect of planning preventive academic measures to make sure your students stay ahead of the COVID-19 curve is daunting, but remember, we are here to help. Below are three vital steps to assuring your student gets ahead and stays ahead this summer. 

Assess Student Needs 

Every student is unique. There is not a one size fits all plan to summer enrichment. The best approach looks to the past for insights and looks to the future for direction. What classes did your student struggle in this year? What knowledge gaps could be lurking before middle school or high school? What difficult courses can you anticipate for next year? Remember, although the research shows more extensive learning gaps in math courses, other academic disciplines are susceptible. Talk to your students, talk to their teachers, and look for trends in the grade book. 

Devise an Action Plan 

Once you know the areas for improvement, make an action plan for the summer. Typically, students struggle during the summer to mimic the structure of school, which often exacerbates the “summer slide as sleep schedules and other habits go haywire. To combat this issue, devise an action plan with specific goals and specific schedules to keep your student on track. Utilize the S.M.A.R.T goal framework to help students create ironclad contracts for self-improvement. Although the focus of this article is on academic learning gaps, we encourage students to seek balance during the summer. Not only will this investment pay dividends down the road, but it will also provide that all-important structure during a chaotic summer period. 

Find Support 

You are not alone! COVID-19 has been a learning experience for all of us. There is no shame in turning to the experts to help your student get ahead and stay ahead. Whether you are looking for academic remediation and enrichment over the summer to combat the “summer slide” or other supplementary services like standardized test prep, we are here to help! Head over to our services page or contact us for more information.

Chris Chambers

About SAOTG

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