Many of our students have learned soooooo much during the pandemic that is not necessarily reflected in standardized test scores, which has been one reason that I have been so critical of the “learning loss” narrative (see Trying To Bring Research, Sanity, Teacher Expertise & Student Voice To The “Learning Loss” Discussion.).
Nevertheless, many of our students are facing academic challenges caused by the pandemic, though not necessarily primarily attributable to “ineffective” distance learning (see “No, Temporarily Closing Schools Is Not Like Invading Iraq”).
Unfortunately, I don’t think most of the strategies being bandied about are likely to work in most places, including “high-dosage” tutoring, summer programs, reduced class sizes, and extended learning time.
Districts who want to do tutoring are having a very hard time finding people to hire – like just about every other employer. And it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier from what I’m hearing across the country.
Summer school can work but, generally, the students who might need it most don’t show up.
I don’t think there is any question that students can benefit from reduced class sizes (see The Best Resources For Learning About How Class Size Does Matter). However, though data is still not clear, I think it’s a safe bet that a lot of teachers will be leaving the profession. And data is clear that fewer people are enrolling in teacher credentialing programs. Skilled districts are developing “grow-your-own” and teacher residency programs, but the pandemic has shown that many districts don’t fit that description. So, I’m not sure where the additional needed teachers to support class size reduction would be coming from – at least, in the short-term.
And extending the school day or school year hasn’t generally worked before (see Research Suggests All Those Districts Considering Adding More Days Or Minutes Should Think Again).
So, if those ideas aren’t feasible – at least in the short term – what should we do?
For what it’s worth, I would make two recommendations:
One, do intensive professional development on accelerated learning. And I’m not talking about the version that for-profit companies are pushing. I’m talking about the kind of teaching ELL/ESL educators have been doing for years and that I’ve written about in The Washington Post (see The kind of teaching kids need right now ) and which I’ve shared at The Best Resources About Accelerated Learning.
Two, schools can start classes and programs to develop and support peer tutors (see Are Schools Overlooking An Obvious Strategy They Can Implement Immediately To Accelerate Learning? Peer Tutors!). Peer tutoring is not a one-way street – studies from other areas, and our own analyses in previous years, have demonstrated that peer tutors/mentors tend to increase their own academic achievement, also (see The Best Resources On The Value & Practice Of Having Older Students Mentoring Younger Ones).
I’m not saying either of these two recommendations are panaceas.
However, they are certainly more realistic than most of the other ideas that are being discussed, and can be implemented pretty quickly.
What do you think?