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  • Erica Peterson

“Houston, we have a 5 to 10 year problem”

Boy holds a homemade rocket toy on his back with great difficulty.

Data released by the Texas Education Agency, confirmed what many predicted, that the learning loss since March 2020 is not only is real but in some cases worse than we thought. Michael Smith, editor of Galveston County The Daily News writes, “Test scores on end-of-course assessments for high school students and State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness exams for grades three through eight were down in every category except two high school English courses, according to the Texas Education Agency. Even more troubling, 2021 test scores were down by double-digit percentage points in 15 of the 30 categories the agency measures compared to 2019: Algebra I, down 21 points; eighth-grade math, down 20 points; third-grade math, down 18 points; fifth-grade science, down 18 points; and so on.”

We know that we have to have a long-term perspective on our plan moving forward. This can't be made up in one year.

Similarly, in a story covering two schools district in Georgia by PBS News Hour, reporter Stephanie Sly states, “Here in Atlanta and across the country, students of color were hit harder by the pandemic than their white counterparts. A McKinsey & Company study found that all students might be nine months behind in math, but that Black and Hispanic students could be as far as a year behind.”

The data makes it clear that districts need to invest in long term solutions; focus on implementing scalable and effective processes for at least five or more years. In the PBS story, Cliff Jones, Chief Academic Officer of Fulton County Schools in Georgia states, “Typically, in a 9.5-month school year, our kids made 9.5 months of growth or more. What we saw during the pandemic was that they made 5.3 months in literacy and 7.2 months in math…We know that we have to have a long-term perspective on our plan moving forward. This can't be made up in one year.”

Time on task matters with a chart comparing learning time for students in different countries.

For students to recover academically, they must attend school on time, every day. (The chart above shows how students in other countries spend more time in school than students in the U.S., making every minute of learning time that much more important!)

As the 2021-22 academic year nears, implementing a continuous improvement models that builds/rebuilds student attendance habits is key.

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