Addressing Learning Loss a Top Priority for Educators as Pandemic Continues

Addressing Learning Loss a Top Priority for Educators as Pandemic Continues

It was hoped that the 2021-2022 school year would be back to normal after a year and a half of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. But the COVID-19 virus has continued to plague school districts as they try to leave the era of remote learning and return to in-person schooling five days per week. As a result, some of the adjustments schools, educators, parents and children made during the pandemic will continue for the foreseeable future.

The readjustment taking place as a new school year gets under way is the subject of Simba Information’s newly published report, Education Re-Entry: Getting Ready for School 2021-2022. No matter how long the pandemic lasts, it has already made its mark on K-12 education. It has created some challenges that experts believe will need years to resolve. At the same time, it has accelerated certain pre-pandemic trends in a way that educators see as a positive.

One of the key concerns in the K-12 community is that remote and hybrid learning, along with the stress of the crisis, would lead to extraordinary learning loss. While impacts may vary, evidence is accumulating that concerns are valid. Students did perform below expectations; academic growth did slow. Learning did progress but at a slower pace.

Addressing this learning loss is a priority for educators as they enter the fall 2021 semester. In the 44 state plans submitted to the federal government (as the report was finalized) detailing the use of federal relief funding, 19 (43%) named accelerating learning or addressing learning loss as their top priority, followed by 11 (25%) that named social-emotional or mental health as their number-one concern. Two states named both of those topics as their joint top priority.

It follows, then, that districts also see the reversal of learning loss as a top goal. According to an analysis of the top 100 districts’ plans for their ESSER funding, conducted by the Center on Reinventing Public Education in summer 2021:

  • 72% planned to devote some funding to strategies to make up lost instruction time.
  • 30% planned to spend funding on high-quality curriculum.
  • 43% planned to add teacher capacity through professional development.
  • 22% planned to spend the money on assessment and accountability.
  • All of these contribute toward helping students get back up to speed in academic growth and performance.

Education Re-Entry: Getting Ready for School 2021-2022 examines the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on K-12 school districts in the United States, including trends and strategies to keep students safe, reverse learning loss, and address social-emotional issues in the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.

Additionally, the report examines the positive impacts and market opportunities engendered by the pandemic and provides case studies of how four districts dealt with the pandemic and how they are moving forward. In-depth interviews were conducted with teachers and superintendents from Alameda (CA) Unified School District, Eugene (OR) School District, Wissahickon (PA) School District, Paramus (NJ) School District, Elmbrook (WI) Schools, and Dundee (MI) Community Schools.