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Summer School, Tutors, More? How To Deal With Pandemic Learning Loss

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Chad Aldis, Thomas B. Fordham Institute vice president for Ohio Policy and Advocacy, says any amount of learning lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic is not good for any student. However, students who were already behind before the crisis might have fallen even farther behind.

Ohio students may have lost one-third to one-half of a school year of learning during the pandemic, and the learning loss needs to be made up somehow, experts say.

Some children have been more deeply impacted than others, said Chad Aldis, Thomas B. Fordham Institute vice president for Ohio Policy and Advocacy.

“It’s never good for anyone to be impacted, but it appears that the students that were already most behind, might have lost even more ground,” Aldis said.

On Tuesday, during his regular coronavirus briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine called for local school districts to devise plans by April 1 for how to address lost learning in each district and school. The Ohio Department of Education recently published a report citing losses for Fall 2020 in both kindergarten readiness and third-grade English language arts scores.  

DeWine said an additional $2 billion in federal funding and an increase in state “wellness dollars” would go to support plans to deal with learning lossand get Ohio kids “back on track.”

According to Aldis, more time in the classroom with teachers and tutors is essential to help students fill in any academic gaps that may have occurred during the pandemic.

“Summer school, intensive summer school, making up time with dedicated learning time in that. Making sure they’re actually getting classroom experiences. A back-to-school camp would be great,” he said. “A district doesn’t quite feel comfortable in June, but maybe they do in the end of July or the beginning of August, three or four weeks before school starts."  

The other thing that’s proven highly effective is “high-dosage tutoring,” said Aldis, adding there’s a lot of research to support its effectiveness.

“The ability to bring in trained tutors to help those students who have fallen behind, who we realize were most negatively impacted,” he said. “Let’s give the resources and make them available, so that these students, under the assistance of a teacher, can get extra time with a tutor.”

The Fordham Institute has advocated for students to take state assessments this year, said Aldis, noting that it’s “not about shaming anyone,” but to see where students are compared to previous years so educators can make plans for getting students what they need.

“We need to have information because we know that we have a 120,000 students in each grade in Ohio, and they all take the state assessment every year. So, we know just about what fourth-graders are usually going to know,” he said. “The advantage of having them take it this year: How much less do this year's fourth-graders know, given the year of learning they went through?”
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Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”