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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Second wave of learning loss is coming in ’23-24

Students learned a lot less in remote classes, test scores show. “The achievement loss is far greater than most educators and parents seem to realize,” wrote Harvard researcher Thomas Kane in The Atlantic.

Photo: WikiImages/Pixabay

Schools have reopened. The next school year might be “normal.” Will students start catching up on “unfinished” or “lost” learning? Will achievement scores rebound?

No, predicts Mike Goldstein, founder of Match Education. He foresees a “second wave” of learning loss in 2023 and 2024.

Students are working less in class and spending more time on their screens, he writes. They’ve lost “agency.”

Where teachers are in short supply, principals are likely to hire “shaky” teachers and to be reluctant to “critique teachers for fear they may go elsewhere,” writes Goldstein. “All the factors above demoralize good teachers and make them more likely to leave.”

Principals feel overwhelmed, he writes. “Controversies surrounding critical race theory and social-emotional learning feel unwinnable.”

Then there’s the problem of school culture.

Even before the pandemic, well-intentioned but poorly-executed behavior management systems like “restorative justice” eroded the structure of some schools. Fixing that was on the to-do list of many school leaders circa 2019. It’s still undone. Now in 2022, add in rising crime outside schools, plus key staff turnover, and we should expect more culture challenges inside schools.

Match Education proved the effectiveness of intensive tutoring, but districts’ attempts to ramp up tutoring are “not going well, with some notable exceptions,” he writes.

Some dreamed the pandemic “would unleash a wave of school redesign that leads to achievement gains,” Goldstein concludes. The “Build Back Better” enthusiasm has fizzled.

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