Concern is high among parents and students as to whether digital learning has provided educational experiences comparable to that offered in a traditional classroom. The Covid 19 health pandemic may have given rise to an educational pandemic, Unfinished Learning.
The quick shift to online education became the norm last year. Districts struggled to update their IT infrastructure, educators, parents and students learned new online platforms, and Zoom fatigue became a real concern. By the end of the 2020-21 school year, students often found final grades adjusted, end-of-year exams canceled, and college entrance exams were no longer offered or required. As a new school year begins, districts are studying what learning gaps may exist and what unfinished learning needs to be addressed to get students on track.
According to McKinsey & Company's article COVID-19 and education: The lingering effects of unfinished learning "the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year." This significant learning loss can be attributed to technology issues, disengaged students, and oftentimes pandemic induced family life disruptions while at-home learning. The study suggests these students are at risk of finishing school without the skills, behaviors, and mindsets to succeed in college or the workforce.
The vast majority of districts are providing personalized learning, teacher training to target individual student instructional needs, life skill and social-emotional learning programs to address unfinished learning. Research indicates these programs will help fill learning gaps.
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By: Nancy Rubesch