COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns set student learning back decades, new data shows


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — New data shows that two decades of improved learning have been wiped out in just two years.

It is often called “the nation’s bulletin”.

Twice a year, the National Center for Education Statistics releases data from an assessment given to nearly 15,000 children.

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It shows the performance of American students in key areas.

On Thursday, new figures revealed that since the start of the pandemic the country has received a failing grade.

“It’s not uncommon to see them maybe two levels below level, which is tragic in itself, but we see kids who are three and four levels below level,” said Jim Wambach of Children Rising.

From early 2020 through winter 2022, the COVID pandemic and ensuing lockdowns resulted in a loss of learning that erased decades of progress.

VIDEO: Bay Area School District grapples with learning loss among students of color and low-income households

In the areas of math and reading, statistics show that 9-year-olds are propelled to levels not seen since the 1990s.

The trend has alarmed educators and parents.

“It was easy for people who weren’t with them every day to say, ‘oh kids, they’re fine, they’re resilient, they’ll get through this.’ And we, the parents, who were at home were saying that the children were not well,” said mother Viviane Safrin.

While learning losses were widespread across almost all groups, students of color were disproportionately affected.

“I think part of that is because so many of our students of color in the state were already in schools that were underresourced, underinvested. And then you add a pandemic on top of that. of that,” said Dr. Christopher Nellum. of The Education Trust-West.

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Since the return to in-person learning, parents and teachers have worked overtime to try to catch up with their students.

But many still say they worry about the long-term effects.

“These academic numbers, I think, are really just the tip of the iceberg. They don’t even address the social and emotional losses that have occurred,” Safrin said.

And unless more action is taken to try to address learning losses immediately, some fear they will haunt us for years.

“I’m afraid we’re going to see a cliff in three, four, five years where we’re going to have a much higher dropout rate in high school and college,” Safrin said.

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