Recent research predicts that many students returning to school in fall 2020 will be behind in their learning. According to Dr. Megan Kuhfeld and Dr. Beth Tarasawa, research scientists at NWEA, students will return to school this fall with a significant learning loss due to COVID-19 school closures. The NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) is a nonprofit organization that provides accurate educational assessments based on rigorous research and collection of statistics.
There is a critical window of learning for each age and grade level. In each grade, students learn skills and foundations that lay the groundwork for studies in later years. In elementary school, the basic foundation for literacy and numeracy is laid. When students fall significantly behind their grade level in these areas, they will face additional challenges in the future.
Research conducted by Dr. Kuhfeld and Dr. Tarasawa estimates that students will return to school this fall with only 70% of their usual learning advances in reading, when compared with previous years. In mathematics, students are expected to fall much further behind. The studies predict that students will retain only 50% of their learning advances in math from the previous year. In some cases, students may fall behind a whole academic year in their mathematic progress.
While the phrase “we are all in this together” rings true, quarantine has been a different reality for each family. Some students have thrived in quarantine conditions while others have really struggled with the switch to online learning. Students have not had equal access to technology and devices during school closures. Not all families have had adequate childcare or the flexibility to assist children with their schooling.
The NWEA encourages families to get additional support from educators and teachers for this school year. They recommend that students set individual academic goals for themselves. Students should review their goals every few weeks and create visual reminders to keep themselves motivated and organized.
“Every student deserves the opportunity to feel successful during this time. For some students, returning to grade-level proficiency may not be realistic this year. Students above grade level must also continue to find opportunities to learn and grow.” – Chase Nordengren (senior research scientist, NWEA)