Five Ways to Help Schools Turnaround Learning Loss From the COVID-19 Pandemic

We all feared that learning loss due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic would have a negative impact on student learning and benchmark studies confirmed that suspicion. Now the release of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) long-term trend reading and mathematics assessments of 13-year-old students paints a picture of just how dire the impact might be. For the 2022-2023 school year, the average scores for 13-year-olds declined 4 points in reading and 9 points in mathematics compared with the previous assessment administered during the 2019–2020 school year. Compared with assessments from a decade ago, the average scores declined 7 points in reading and 14 points in mathematics.1

While, of course, this is not good news for any of us with a stake in K-12 education, the education community has a long reputation of uniting to overcome difficult problems. We believe this learning loss challenge will be no different. Here are five ways that your company can help:

  1. Provide intervention support for teachers. If your product doesn’t currently support intervention, now might be the time to integrate support into the ongoing curriculum. If it does, perhaps it is a good idea to call that out to teachers who are already using your program with their students. Email or social media campaigns highlighting these capabilities will help teachers use what they already have in their classrooms to get students back on track by pointing out existing resources.
  1. Develop an in-house initiative to support employees volunteering in schools. Your work family might be spread across the country, but with a program like this you can rally them to get involved in their local schools by seeking out volunteer opportunities. Maybe teachers need volunteers to read to students or tutor students in math? You could have an incentive or reward program to support staff who participate and the schools they work with—either by recognizing the employee or the school/students they are working with.
  1. Provide support for using your programs to tutor students. Research from the University of Chicago demonstrates the potential impact of in-school tutoring: the ability to close a gap of up to two and a half years of math in a single school year.2 And there is federal funding, including ESSER money, available for high-dosage and other in-school tutoring programs. Ensuring that your programs or resources are used to support tutoring programs may be as simple as pointing out the tutoring resources already embedded in your program. Or it may entail adding a component to support tutoring—even a diagnostic assessment if you don’t already have one.
  1. Ensure that all students have access to your programs or resources. You may have the coolest, most interactive, efficacy-based digital learning program available today with great resources for home learning. But, according to the NEA3, 25 percent of school-aged children live in homes without broadband access or a web-enabled device. Think of creative ways that you can help teachers provide access to your learning resources outside of the classroom, such as creating printables to send home or even providing them with kits of printed materials to support learning when there is no connectivity.
  1. Listen. We know we say it all of the time, but listening to education customers right now is more important than ever as they navigate this situation. If they tell you they need something, figure out a way to get it for them. If they tell you they need to be left alone for the months of September and October, do it. It will help them as they increase support for their students and when you are in touch, they’ll remember you listened.

Getting all students back on track isn’t going to be easy and won’t happen overnight, but we know that our remarkable education community—especially with the support of companies like yours—will turn this learning loss challenge into an opportunity. MDR is here to help you as you create campaigns to show educators how you can help them ensure their students are successful. To learn more, contact us today!

1 Scores decline again for 13-year-old students in reading and mathematics

2 New Research Shows High Dosage Tutoring is Highly Effective.

3 NEA Comments for Senate Hearing, Rural Broadband: Connecting Our Communities to the Digital Economy