Making up for Learning Loss During the Pandemic
With classroom seats to be filled with students once again this fall, there is a sense we’re turning a corner towards brighter days. Although schools may not be back to “normal,” reopening is upon us and opportunities to recover from learning loss due to the pandemic are now possible.
Learning acceleration will be key in recovering what was lost during the pandemic, a task that will require schools to innovate in their approach to students. On average, students “lost the equivalent of three months of learning in mathematics and one-and-a-half months of learning in reading,” according to an analysis by McKinsey & Company. Meanwhile, Brittany Jenkins, founder of We Are Tech, points out learning loss issues run even deeper for communities of color and outlines three ways we can address the growing divide.
Simply put, students are behind and now comes the time to help them recover. So how do we create environments for successful learning acceleration?
The After-school Solution to Learning Loss
Schools only have so much time and resources to address learning loss, which is where summer and after-school programs (also referred to as OST or Out-of-School Time programs, or after-care school) can have a significant impact. Currently, K-12 students spend more than 80 percent of their waking hours learning outside of school, while more than 10 million students nationwide rely on after-school and summer learning programs, according to the Afterschool Alliance.
While the number of students and hours spent in after-school programs presents an opportunity, research highlighting their effectiveness reveals just how critical they can be in accelerating learning for students. According to the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project, regular after-school program attendance can lower dropout rates and increase attendance, close achievement gaps for low-income students, improve performance in the classroom, and increase social emotional well being.
Build Meaningful Programs through Tech Education
While the general value of after-school programs is hard to argue, the quality of such programs is key and that’s where integrating coding and digital skills learning can ensure learning loss is effectively being addressed. Ryan Kramer, BSD Education’s Lead Coach, recently outlined how such skills can transform programs and make the time with students count.
“Digital skills are well suited to be part of the solution,” said Kramer. “Digital skills like web, game, and app development are fun and engaging ways to reinforce math, English, science, and social concepts through real-world application. Another benefit of digital skills education is that it enhances cognitive skills such as computational and critical thinking, which can lift students’ abilities across subject matter — an important benefit after an unconventional school year.”
Addressing Learning Loss through Future-Proof Skills
In addition to enhancing learning in core subjects, the rise of STEM careers and the importance of tech education can also be addressed through OST programming. According to a recent iD Tech survey, 65% of parents with children in online or hybrid school don’t believe the STEM offerings their child received during the pandemic meet their standards of quality, engaging activities.
Recognizing the need to provide San Diego students with quality 21st century skills and coding instruction, the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) has partnered with BSD Education so they can integrate digital skills, such as website design and game/app development, in their Steps-2-STEM after-school program.
An important aspect of EIS’s programs is to expand access to high quality tech education, something that will be made available through the partnership with BSD. With their after-school, weekend and school partnership programs, EIS aims to provide STEM experiences that foster critical thinking and technical skills that encourage students to pursue STEM careers.
“This partnership with BSD will help level the playing field for many students who haven’t been introduced to these increasingly more important digital skills,” said Jim Stone, Executive Director at EIS. “Closing the digital divide is about more than hardware; it’s about creating digital literacy for everyone and this partnership will help make this happen.”
A Partner for Learning Acceleration
It’s clear addressing learning loss due to the pandemic is going to take time and can’t be addressed through a single action or solution. However, quality summer and after-school programs will have a significant role in reducing the impact of learning loss and helping students move forward. With the integration of tech education and digital skills, students can accelerate their progress.
While teaching coding and other digital skills can seem daunting, BSD makes it easy for someone with no experience to get started and allows educators with experience to increase capacity and continue to innovate. Contact us today so we can address your unique needs and develop a partnership that will help your students reach further and have an experience that will equip them with future-proof skills.