Many educators have wondered what effects the COVID-19-related school closures and disruptions will have on student learning. Using cohort data from the prior year, we took scores from the FastBridge aReading, aMath and CBMreading assessments to estimate typical learning losses from the spring to fall.
- Seasonal growth (i.e. fall to winter and winter to spring) was used to produce a more precise estimate of learning loss over the summer break absent of formal classroom instruction.
- The refined summer score losses were used to estimate the effect on scores if the summer loss rate was in effect from mid-March through the end of the school year.
- Analysis showed that while estimated score loss varied by assessment and grade level, with younger students showing more loss on aReading and aMath and older students showing greater losses on CBMreading*, students across the board will start this school year behind where they are after a typical summer break.
- Schools should expect to have higher numbers of students needing remedial reading and math instruction as well as strategic support in order to achieve grade-level learning goals.
- A Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is one-way schools can be prepared to address student needs when they return to learning. Fall screening will be critical to determine school, class, and individual student learning loss. Because of the vast need that is anticipated, it will not be possible to remediate the loss due to COVID-19 using Tier II interventions. Therefore, schools must intensify Tier 1 instruction to help all students catch up.
- In early grades, K-3, more time should be spent on reading and math, even at the expense of other subjects. Learning loss is likely to be greatest in these grades so it will be necessary to spend more time focused on core subjects to make up for disruptions in instruction that occurred during spring school closures.
- Across all grades, rely on the Rate of Improvement (ROI) as a key metric when progress monitoring. While norms are still valid and important, growth will be a more significant indicator of student risk. ROI will be the best tool for teachers to use to identify students who need more intensive intervention during the 2020-2021 school year.
*The differences in the amount of loss across assessments and grades are possibly due to differences in what each assessment measures as well as the importance of regular learning and practice in relation to the skills measured across grades.