Backwards: The report shows ‘unfinished learning’ from DC students

Students in DC fell significantly behind last school year compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from the education group EmpowerK12.

Students in DC fell significantly behind last school year compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from the education group EmpowerK12.

The most marked declines in reading and math levels came among students considered vulnerable – who make up about half of DC students – as well as students with disabilities and black and Latin students.

The learning loss report – or “unfinished learning” as the report calls it – is an update of research conducted in December last few months of the school year 2020-2021 and covers the entire school year, based on data provided by DC Public Schools and public charter schools in the district.

The updated report was released Tuesday.

Overall, the report spoke up for three to four months of “unfinished learning” among students in 3rd to 8th grade and overall flatter academic growth rates throughout the school year compared to pre-pandemic trends.

Other findings: Fewer of the youngest students finished the year studying at grade level. Overall, the percentage of students in kindergarten for second-grade reading fell to grade level 18%, with a decrease of more than 27% for vulnerable students and a decrease of 25% for black students.

In addition, students in grades 2 through 8 who took English-language arts and math tests ended the year achieving lower percentiles than last year. Overall, the ELA score decreased by 14.3 percentile points for vulnerable students and 13.7 percentile points for black students.

The math score dropped 13.8 percentile points for vulnerable students and 13.7 percentile points for black students, according to the research.

A potential bright spot: The study found that turning to personal instruction, as many schools did for at least some students last school year, helped fill some gaps in students’ learning.

Offering personalized classes “probably translated into more or higher growth rates for some of our students,” said Joshua Boots, CEO of EmpowerK12, at an event that revealed the research. “For students who were completely remote all year, we saw that across all of our graduate students, they reached 47% of their growth goals.”

It increased to 57% for students who returned at some point during the fourth quarter of the school year and 66% for students who returned in the third quarter.

“This important report confirms the toll this pandemic has had on our city’s students – both academically and emotionally – after 18 months of virtual and hybrid learning,” Education Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn said in a statement. “While a full return to personal learning was the first and most important step in accelerating learning, Mayor Bowser has prioritized historic investments to provide magnificent guidance and mental health services to all DC students. These new, targeted supports are crucial to our common recovery and to closing the expanded opportunities we see in our schools. “

During the Empower12 event, Kihn said rising vaccination rates continue to be the “No. 1 tool” to reduce learning losses because vaccinated teachers and children who show no symptoms will not be quarantined if they are potentially exposed to coronavirus.

The survey showed that four out of 10 students said they had to quarantine last school year because they either tested positive or were in close contact with someone who did.

Another key tool is a $ 41 million investment in high-impact tutoring over the next five years, which includes tutoring opportunities outside of traditional school settings.

Christina Grant, the acting state inspector for education, said there is also a need for investment in teachers.

“It’s November, but in an educator’s life it feels like June… So we have to figure out how to refuel, how to revive ourselves? “Right now we need to make sure people do not give up as they are just trying to get their legs under them again.”

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