What can we do to help regain lost educational ground?

Olivia Jiang

Over the pandemic, keeping up on our education has been a struggle. Students did not do as well this past year as in years prior, and schools across the country need to make up for this lost education.

 The COVID-19 pandemic created many educational complications when it first hit the U.S. Suddenly, schools closed and students began to learn online. This shift wasn’t easy: students needed many things. Those who didn’t have access to computers needed to borrow them; some students needed hotspots, materials for at-home experiments and labs, and online courses to take. With all these sudden changes and distractions, many students weren’t able to learn everything they were supposed to and began to fall behind. If we don’t help them catch up soon, we may not ever be able to.

The Brookings Institute found that students were still improving and learning last year, but that this improvement was much smaller than in years before. Test results from over 4 million students show that third to eighth graders all performed worse in exams than in years prior. On average, students in each grade performed more poorly in 2020 than their peers did in 2019. Younger students fell especially behind on almost every subject.

The reading results in 2020 were either the same or slightly lower than in 2019, which may have been achieved by students studying and reading themselves rather than in-school learning. Unlike reading, students can’t really study math on their own, leading to a large drop in math scores. Math test results were much lower than in previous years. Scores dropped by as much as 10 percentile points. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Education, this year the United States had one of the highest high school dropout rates in the world. Many of the lucky few that made it to college didn’t end up graduating.

Schools are recognizing this sudden drop in education and trying to make it up. The Washington Post recently reported on a district in Colorado that is working to create more interaction between parents, students and teachers. They are planning to schedule weekly meetings with parents and teachers to discuss student performance. They hope that by doing this, each student will receive an adequate amount of attention and tutoring. However, this idea is probably more beneficial for elementary schools than middle and high schools, as each elementary school teacher has fewer students.

Schools in Alabama are planning to try “accelerated learning,” which is teaching in a way that will allow students to grasp a concept quickly in a short amount of time. I think this idea may be worth trying, although it might not work for everyone because students learn at different speeds.

Like these schools, West can take action to regain its lost learning. The Salt Lake City School District is already making an effort with measures such as asynchronous days. These online days were used by district officials and teachers to come up with a plan to regain lost education.

However as a school, West can definitely do more to prevent more learning loss. For example, teachers could take a few days at the beginning of each year to review past years’ curriculums. This would make sure that students fully understand what they learned last year before learning more. Additionally, it can help clear up any confusion. A short review can refresh the knowledge lost during the summer without wasting a lot of time.

We need to catch up on the education that was lost last year. It is vital that we make an effort to fix learning loss, no matter how big or small that effort is. If we act now, this problem can be solved.