Jun 10 2020

Experts Predict Significant Learning Slide in K–12 Schools

Mandatory school closures during the pandemic may lead to increased learning loss, according to a national online learning study.

Students could lose up to five months of their potential reading growth by next school year due to school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study by educational nonprofits Successful Practices Network and the Center for College & Career Readiness.

Researchers relied on real-time student reading data from 1.6 million students across 1,364 districts using Achieve3000 Literacy, a reading comprehension platform that measures and forecasts Lexile levels, to predict learning trajectories. They looked specifically at how students engaged with the platform before and after school closures.

“If students can remain engaged in online learning from home with a similar degree of usage and performance as they experienced in school, they are likely to maintain their same rate of projected growth,” the study found.

Online Learning Trends to Consider for Next Year's Planning

Here are other key trends to pay attention to as planning for the next academic year begins:

1. Slow transition to successful online learning: Researchers found that the number of students using the platform dropped after schools closed. They saw a 43 percent decline in the number of students logging in and a 44 percent decline in the number of students completing at least one lesson.

2. Achievement gap might widen: With the decline in learning activity during school closures and the unequal access to home learning opportunities, the achievement gap between low- and high-income students could increase by as much as 18 percent.

3. Advanced readers are logging in more: Compared with students who struggle with reading, advanced readers have been more active in online learning, which could increase the performance gap between the two groups by 6 percent. Plus, a higher proportion of advanced readers come from higher income schools.

“The lost learning time for students, and the stress for teachers, will have continued impact into fall 2020 and beyond,” said Kevin Baird, chairman of the Center for College & Career Readiness, in a press release.

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