Inspired Ideas
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Inspired Ideas

McGraw Hill

May 26, 2020

7 min read

The COVID-Slide: Helping Vulnerable Students Overcome Post-Pandemic Learning Loss

By Divya Sridhar, Ph.D., Policy Advisor at McGraw Hill

Unfortunately, it is expected that COVID-19 will create an early onset of students’ summer learning loss, thereby widening existing equity gaps that disproportionately impact students who are first-generation, low-income, and students of color.

Measuring Learning Loss

The topic of learning loss, particularly during the summer months, is a heavily researched subject without clear solutions. Existing research[2] suggests that when students take an extended break from their coursework, they are likely to slip behind, starting the fall semester at a disadvantage.

How Learning Loss Impacts the Future of Work and Economy for Students

In particular, the learning loss during COVID-19 places high school juniors and seniors who are preparing for their future postsecondary plans — which may include enrolling in college or the workforce — at a particular disadvantage. It could be argued that while younger students may be able to return to school and make-up for the learning losses, students in their pivotal years of high school face the greatest challenges. Learning loss will have serious repercussions not only on the students and their schools, but also on the economy as a whole. Furthermore, high school students from underrepresented backgrounds and low-income communities are often behind from day one, due to myriad circumstances, even in schools where they have been accepted.

Without a clear time frame that reflects the end to the COVID-19 crisis, and a return to normalcy for students to their respective schools, the country needs to identify solutions to support students in halting any learning loss — as efficiently and effectively as possible.

What is a Potential Policy Solution to Learning Loss for Students?

As many students transition to virtual education, it is critical for students to have access to high-quality solutions that can support their course pathways and plans, based on a thorough understanding and assessment of existing knowledge gaps. Intelligent adaptive learning platforms, implemented appropriately, are particularly effective in accurately assessing and identifying student’s existing level of mastery and shaping their progress, as compared to their peers.

Potential Policy Solutions for Learning Loss

Long-term learning loss doesn’t have to be an educational consequence of Covid-19. Powerful digital learning platforms, like McGraw Hill Rise and ALEKS, cater to an individual student’s needs by identifying learning gaps and providing personalized content, helping to embedded assessment and personalization to help ease the transition back to the new school year, regardless of teaching format, and ensure that every student is prepared to succeed this year and beyond.

  • Rise is new ELA and Math, Grades 3–8, supplemental solution that is completely digital for today’s remote learning environment and specifically designed to tackle learning loss. With Rise, students access content curated to each grade and resources that allow for review and reinforcement of topics to improve comprehension and mastery. Teachers will have access to customized student reporting dashboards and real-time feedback on student content mastery. Additionally, Rise’s recharge feature allows for asynchronous reinforcement of topics, allowing students to reach mastery of core ELA and math learning objectives at their own pace. This easy-to-use and flexible learning tool is expected to have an immediate impact on closing learning gaps in schools across the U.S. this fall.
  • Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, or ALEKS, is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system, which can be accessed from any location and from any web-enabled device, making delivery convenient and ubiquitous. ALEKS can be used by colleges and universities to support students’ in taking courses through traditional remediation-based models, Multiple measures, corequisite models (pairing remediation with credit-bearing coursework, and accelerated learning models). Many colleges and universities have been successful in partnering with local schools to provide high school students with a streamlined pathway to receive college credit, using ALEKS Placement Preparation and Learning program, to support their foundation in math and science courses. Using ALEKS at participating schools, students have the opportunity to accelerate learning to qualify for credit-bearing college courses, or take remedial or dual credit courses, as offered by the partnering schools.

Transforming Education as We Know it: 21st Century Classrooms

Within the next year, as more truly intelligent learning solutions are released and tested in the market and there are larger-scale adoptions, classroom education is likely to completely transform. This technology-enabled transformation will be driven by passionate instructors and administrators who will integrate adaptive learning systems fully into the education experience, changing the construct and nature of classrooms, and reevaluating the way in which subjects are taught.