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  • Tony Wold, Ed.D.

What’s an Ounce of Prevention Worth?

The concerns regarding “lost learning” have been so significant that public schools have additional funding for remediation and intervention coming from both the Federal and State legislatures. The CARES Act, which ultimately morphed into ESSER I, II, & III provided more than $1 trillion to public schools to address the impact of the pandemic.

The astronomical investment in remediation suggests a much more important question:

How much is the government funding and is education choosing to invest in strategies and programs aimed at prevention? When we try to answer this question, it becomes evident that the true answer is—not that much—is being invested in proactive prevention strategies. So the real question that I will discuss over the next few posts is:

"What options do LEAs have right now, to stop playing catch-up and work with all constituents with a sense of urgency to address this national epidemic?"

Remediation is Big Business! While we don’t have national K-12 numbers, we do have higher ed stats. Analysis by Generation Progress and the Center for American Progress finds that remedial courses cost students and their families approximately $1.3 billion annually. Students enrolled in these catch-up courses do not receive college credit and are also less likely to graduate altogether, the report shows.

Remediation is reactive, in that remediation is necessary because something did not occur as expected the first time. School Boards regularly vote to purchase intervention materials that cost $75 - $200 per student. They already sponsor tutoring programs that cross the $2,000 per student threshold. Prevention is proactive and has the singular goal of not having to implement remediation; ultimately the goal is to reduce the initial number of students needing remediation. The next series of posts will look at why education should invest in prevention before instantly focusing on remediation.

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