By Heather C. Hill & Susanna Loeb
Just about everybody agrees that the school closures resulting from COVID-19 will lead to some student “learning loss” and that the loss will affect students differently depending on their social advantages, the effectiveness of their schools, and their degree of trauma.
Researchers have tried to predict the magnitude of pandemic-related learning loss by making comparisons with what happens when students are out of school in the summer. Recent work by researchers at NWEA, a nonprofit provider of student assessments, estimated that students would end this school year with only about 40 percent to 60 percent of the learning gains they’d see in a typical year.
Data from the federally funded Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, however, suggest a much smaller loss. And estimates that use summer comparisons aren’t taking into account the learning that schools have worked hard to provide virtually this spring.