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As New School Year Approaches, How Will Districts Address the ‘COVID Slide’?

Less than a month after schools across the country transitioned to online learning in the spring, the internet went wild with posts that students would have to repeat their current grade levels in the fall. In reality, solutions to the so-called “COVID slide” will vary from district to district — and may be much more complicated.

What to expect

“It’s going to be really important to understand the gaps kids have, the unfinished learning that exists when kids come in,” said Jacob Bruno, vice president of professional learning at Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA}. The nonprofit organization recently released a report about COVID-19’s impact on student achievement.

Based on research of typical summer learning loss and data from the organization’s 2017-18 MAP Growth assessment, researchers projected students will return to school with about 70% of learning gains in reading and less than 50% in math compared to a typical school year.

There are other factors to consider as well, such as students’ social and emotional wellbeing.

“Because the learning loss for kids is going to be so varied — because the experiences of kids and families will be so varied during this time by sickness, by job loss, by social isolation — there are a number of things that certainly we need to take care of and attend to,” Bruno said.

Assess students early

The key will be to collect data early, the NWEA official said.

“Normally, you might wait a few weeks to kind of have some review with kids and knock off the cobwebs to attend to summer learning loss before you do kind of a fall baseline data collection via an interim assessment or what have you,” he said. “This is kind of like coming into the emergency room to some degree. As kids come into the classroom, like, ‘What do you know today?’”

California’s Cajon Valley Unified School District plans to use early assessment — in addition to the district’s 1:1 ratio for educational devices — as a key strategy for mitigating COVID-induced learning gaps. The data will be particularly helpful in meeting the needs of students who may not have had the same access to summer learning opportunities as their peers, said Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Karen Minshew.

The district has purchased the i-Ready virtual diagnostic tool to assess where students are in English language arts and math as they start the school year online, and they will get online school work responsive to their results, regardless of grade level. The district will prioritize ELA and math as it did during spring remote learning while also integrating other subjects, such as history and science, through writing and reading comprehension.

Excerpted from “As New School Year Approaches, How Will Districts Address the ‘COVID Slide’?” in Education DIVE. Read the full article.  You may also read or download the NWEA brief mentioned in the article: The COVID-19 slide: What summer learning loss can tell us about the potential impact of school closures on student academic achievement.

Source: Education DIVE | As New School Year Approaches, How Will Districts Address the ‘COVID Slide’?, https://www.educationdive.com/news/as-new-school-year-approaches-how-will-districts-address-the-covid-slide/582403 | © 2020 Industry Dive

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