More Bad News about COVID and Learning Loss

Recent data on the effect of the COVID-19 on student learning is sobering. McKinsey&Company posted the grim statistics this week. Amongst the lowlights:

Remote only doesn’t work

Although students at the best full-time virtual schools can do as well as or better than those at traditional ones,6 most studies have found that full-time online learning does not deliver the academic results of in-class instruction.7 Moreover, in 28 states,8 with around 48 percent of K–12 students, distance learning has not been mandated.9 As a result, many students may not receive any instruction until schools reopen. Even in places where distance learning is compulsory, significant numbers of students appear to be unaccounted for.10 In short, the hastily assembled online education currently available is likely to be both less effective, in general, than traditional schooling and to reach fewer students as well.

The digital divide is widening

Data from Curriculum Associates, creators of the i-Ready digital-instruction and -assessment software, suggest that only 60 percent of low-income students are regularly logging into online instruction; 90 percent of high-income students do. Engagement rates are also lagging behind in schools serving predominantly black and Hispanic students; just 60 to 70 percent are logging in regularly.

The economic costs are staggering

Using the middle (virus resurgence) epidemiological scenario, in which large-scale in-class instruction does not resume until January 2021, we estimated the economic impact of the learning disruption. (The results would, of course, be worse in the third scenario and better in the first.) All told, we estimate that the average K–12 student in the United States could lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings (in constant 2020 dollars), or the equivalent of a year of full-time work, solely as a result of COVID-19–related learning losses.

Read the full report here

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