• Erica Peterson

Millions of Hours of Learning Loss

In a webinar hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and School Innovations & Achievement, SI&A’s recent sample of data from nearly 325,000 students in California found that these students alone missed approximately 17,560,000 hours of learning time during the 2021-22 school year. While this number is shocking, it only represents 5 percent of California’s six million total students.

The Economist describes, “Covid learning loss (as) a global disaster” while a report by NWEA in The New York Times optimistically estimates that it could take US students at least three to five years to recover from the pandemic. According to the Times, “The federal government made its largest ever one-time investment in American schools — about $190 billion — to support pandemic recovery. But the latest estimates suggest that many students may still need help long after the money runs out. School districts must allocate the last of their funds by September 2024…Recovery is expected to take the longest for groups that were most affected by the pandemic, including low-income students and Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.”


As has been the consistent trend pre-pandemic, SI&A’s report found that student absences are not distributed evenly across student groups. Students of color, low-income, and students in foster care continue to experience the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, thus making up the largest proportion of student learning gaps.


As we open the 2022-2023 school year, it’s easy to get sidelined by competing demands and priorities. Schools will need to make attendance a year-round focus bolstered by sending communications to students and families on an ongoing, monthly basis in their native language. Messaging that is proactive, positive, and aspirational in tone can help strengthen relationships in the communities you serve and keep kids in class.