Learning loss existed before Covid-19, and there was a definite learning gap before the pandemic. Covid-19 widened that gap and shined a bright light on what’s happening in K-12 education. The silver lining to all of this is now we know, or instead, everyone knows, what’s going on, and now it’s time to take steps to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
School closures and remote learning have stopped, but there is a predicted increase in learning loss between now and 2024. Why? Let’s explore.
Kids who are supposedly back to normal, in-person schooling describe a lower bar, less effort, and more goofing around. The in-person experience has changed. It’s hard to quantify, but there is a loss within classroom management beyond what one classroom teacher can manage on any weekday.
Students are inclined to do less and to be on their screens instead. Moreover, the students are nudged, encouraged, cajoled, and chased less by the adults, parents, and teachers—who are more likely to be on their screens. That was true pre-Covid, and now it’s accelerated.
Support positions like bus drivers, nurses, and substitute teachers should be more staffed. There are stories all over the news of parents with CDLs volunteering to drive a school bus for their child’s field trip simply because no one is available to drive the bus.
School administrators troubleshoot all day long, ensuring an adult in every classroom and a bus driver to pick up or drop off every student.
Some places have teacher shortages, so schools are often staffed with less experienced educators who might typically be rejected by hiring committees. Additionally, administrators are hesitant to critique teachers for fear they might quit mid-contract or not come back next year.
Finally, with rising costs and inflation, plus an unmanageable workload, educators look at the cost-benefit tradeoffs of remaining an educator and have entirely switched careers altogether.
The gap cannot be closed. There needs to be a longer bridge that can be built to solve actual learning gaps, pandemic-caused gaps, staffing shortages, and student behavior or school culture challenges. What would that bridge even look like?
However, instead of attempting to close a gap more prominent than the Grand Canyon, let’s try building a different road altogether. A highway of sorts with a direction that creates positive school cultures while offering teacher incentives and an engaged learning curriculum that mixes multi-sensory methods and technology.
We need a new direction. The challenge is frustrating, to be sure. But the opportunities are exciting, and the outcomes might be the most rewarding experience.
By. Meredith Biesinger