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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

It's a 'long road to recovery'

When students returned to school, they began learning again, but the recovery was hampered by "high absenteeism, quarantines and short-term closures," writes Linda Jacobson on The 74.

Overall, the findings — from 8.3 million students in 25,000 schools — “point to a long road to recovery still ahead,” wrote researchers from nonprofit testing provider NWEA.
. . . Test data shows that it could still take three to five years — in the middle grades, more than five — to return to pre-pandemic performance.

Students in high-poverty schools lost the most, and were already behind before the pandemic.

Grouping students by performance -- not their nominal grade level -- has made a comeback in Chicago's Schiller Park neighborhood, writes Jacobson. "Many students were two years below grade level, while some were still advanced" at the start of the year. Students were split into leveled groups for the entire day, so teachers could address their learning needs. "In one school, less than half of the second graders were meeting expectations at the beginning of the year, but by spring, 75 percent had made it."

“There would be profound consequences if we allow these achievement losses to become permanent,” warns Thomas Kane, a Harvard economist. Students at high-poverty schools that stayed remote for more than half of the 2020-21 school year lost the equivalent of 22 weeks of instruction, he estimates.

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