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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Covid kids' won't catch up by the end of 12th grade, unless . . .

It's a "terrible truth," writes Margaret Raymond on The 74. "Most of the programs school districts have implemented to address COVID learning loss are doomed to fail" -- and to "waste vast sums of relief funding in pursuit of an impossible goal." Tutoring? Summer school? It won't be enough.

Recent research by Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), which she runs, analyzes students' "pace of learning" (POL) in 16 states. Low-POL students "gain less than a full day of learning" for every day of instruction, Raymond writes. They gain less from tutoring and from summer school, if they go. There are lots of them.

The average student lost 90 days of learning due to the pandemic, CREDO estimates. Less than two-thirds of students will reach average reading and math levels by the end of high school on our current course. With much more learning time, the numbers go up, but not dramatically. With five more years of schooling, which is impossible, only three-quarters hit average reading and math levels.

Raymond suggests letting students progress at their own pace rather than organizing by age and grade level. High achievers could reach the benchmarks quickly and move to advanced work, while others had more time to reach mastery. (But would they?)

She also suggests incentives to get high-impact teachers in classrooms with lower-performing students.

. . . an alternative could be to find the best educator in the state for a given subject, who would receive a substantial payment for recording an entire year’s worth of lessons. The videos and all supporting materials — lesson plans, worksheets, quizzes, etc. — would be posted online for other teachers to use.

Creating an "Instructional Commons" would offer"peer-to-peer training, the opportunity for teachers to observe high-quality instruction in depth, a ready resource for their own lesson planning and a common standard for educators and administrators to employ for professional development," Raymond writes.

If we're not willing to make "deep" changes to our K-12 public education, she concludes, the alternative is mass failure.

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