According to the educational researchers with McKinsey & Company, “the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year.” COVID-19 also widened the achievement gap with students of color, and low-income students suffering the most.
Students in majority-Black schools ended the school year six months behind in both math and reading, while students in majority-white schools ended up just four months behind in math and three months behind in reading. Students in low-income schools and in urban locations also lost more learning during the pandemic than their peers in high-income rural and suburban schools. Wait, there’s more:
‘’Unless steps are taken to fill the pandemic learning gap, the authors say, these people will earn less over their lifetimes. The impact on the U.S. economy could range from $128 billion to $188 billion every year as the cohort enters the workforce.”
What options are schools exploring to deal with the impact of the pandemic on their students?
School systems across the country are exploring traditional solutions such as
- extending the school year
- switching to year-round school
- beefing up after-school programs and services
Others are exploring a few non-traditional strategies, such as inviting community-based organizations to partner with educators on experience-based learning opportunities.
What does the impact of the pandemic mean for Portsmouth students, their parents/guardians, teachers and the community-at-large?
The 2021-22 academic year will be like no other. We are asking teachers and other front-line staff to take on a Herculean task. Their classrooms will be filled with students who suffered trauma brought on by isolation and scarcity. They will simultaneously have one foot on the pedal of academic progress and the other on the brake of mental stress – no doubt a delicate balance for the best teacher.
So, what can a private citizen do to support those shaping our future leaders and workers?
- Volunteer to tutor students.
- Join the PTA.
- Encourage your employer to adopt a school.
- Attend sporting events, plays, and concerts.
- Finally, simply ask a teacher what she or he would find helpful.
I promise you, some days the answer will be simple: Appreciation for their work.