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A recent analysis of 477 school districts found that just 33% gave their teachers clear distance learning instruction guidelines when schools were shuttered in mid-March, including tracking student participation and progress.
Said the researchers at the Center for Reinventing Public Education, “Without clear expectations across the board and therefore pressure to meet the needs of each student, many districts likely left the learning experiences of students who fact the greatest challenges at risk. “
As it turns out, they’re spot on.
Plus, while many teachers put in more hours a day online with their students than usual, a number admitted to spending less time on instruction overall as well as focusing more on reviewing than on introducing new material. Indeed, the EdWeek Research Center found that, before schools closed, students spent about six hours a day learning; afterward that figure was cut in half.
In fact, a Reuters study of 57 districts found that 47 said they’d provided their elementary and middle schoolers with 50% or less of the usual face-to-face teacher time. Even worse, eight districts said their students received little to no direct instruction whatsoever. Philadelphia is a case in point where thousands of its high schoolers received none.
Said the district’s Superintendent William Hite, “This is no way a sufficient replacement of teacher instruction of students in classrooms. I think the impact has already been felt here.”
There and elsewhere, too.
Put all that together with the fact that learning to read requires hands-on activities, read-alouds, and the like. As Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn put it: “In order to learn to read, you actually need to be able to see each other’s mouths.”
Couldn’t happen virtually and didn’t.
The result: While the typical summer slide caused a loss of about 20% of literacy gains and 27% of math gains, the Northwest Evaluation Association says, “With the COVID slide, those figures may have jumped to a 30% literacy loss and a 50% loss when it comes to math.”
And says the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s Bree Dusseault, “Experts anticipate that most districts will face steep challenges in the fall when they must help students recover lost academic ground.”
“But,” she adds, “If districts aren’t better prepared in the fall, plans to address the different types of access gaps, instructional gaps, then it’s an abdication of responsibility to those students and their parents.”
Crossing fingers just won’t do …
Stay tuned. ~ Carol