Tthe great idea
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial reductions in student learning in metro-Atlanta public elementary and middle schools. In addition, these impacts have grown over time, according to our new research.
In the winter of 2020 to 21, we found that the average performance in math within a degree was up to seven months ago, where students would probably have found themselves if the pandemic had not occurred. In reading, students had an average of up to 7 and a half months in some grades.
Students were often lagging behind between fall and winter tests, sometimes dramatically. The effects of the pandemic varied by subject, grade, and school district, complicating how districts can determine their responses to this unprecedented disruption of formal education.
We also found that the pandemic often worsened pre-existing disparities.
For example, students eligible for free or reduced price meals, a crude measure of poverty, generally experienced slower achievement growth during the pandemic than ineligible students. Similarly, groups of traditionally marginalized students, including blacks, Hispanics, and English learners, generally experienced larger reductions in achievement growth.
We wanted to understand whether a return to face-to-face learning would reduce the harmful effects of the pandemic. Elementary school students who returned to face-to-face instruction in the fall of 2020-21 experienced greater growth in achievement per day of instruction than students who continued to learn at a distance, but their growth was even lower than for comparable students before the pandemic. This could be due to students ’difficulty returning to face-to-face learning, emotional trauma, or other pandemic effects. Alternatively, increasing disparities in student achievement could make teaching difficult. For high school students, the differences in the learning rate between face-to-face and remote instruction were modest.
Why is it important?
Many people are concerned about school closures and e-learning during the pandemic slowed student learning. Understanding the extent of the slowdown will help districts determine what types of intervention strategies can offset losses and what levels of resources will be required to meet the challenge.
Similarly, knowing how the growth of achievements varies according to the mode of instruction (remote, hybrid, and face-to-face) will inform decisions about the use of remote instruction, both for the rest of the pandemic and outside.
He American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides school districts with funds helping students catch up on where their learning would have been if the pandemic had not occurred. The most important implication of our findings is that attendance should be directed at students with the largest reductions in growth in achievements during the pandemic.
It is recommended that districts use three strategies that previous research suggests that they have the greatest impact on student achievement.
First, provide high-intensity tutorials in small groups based on classroom content. This strategy includes the highest price and highlights the need to focus on the students with the most needs.
Second, extend the school day during the regular academic year.
And third, provide learning opportunities during the summer or other breaks and use incentives such as free meals and transportation to increase participation in them.
Our research group, the Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education, continues to delve into the effects of the pandemic on students. We study students ’engagement with remote learning and analyze how parents chose their student’s mode of learning. We also decompressed unexpected results, such as the relatively milder impacts on girls and students with disabilities.