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    #248370 - 03/21/21 06:13 PM Fixing covid learning losses
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    It's no surprise to anyone here that schools are generally in a damage control mode, attempting (hopefully) to minimize learning loss from pandemic-related disruptions. A question I've been expecting to hear from educators and public policymakers - but haven't yet - is why we believe learning loss to be inevitable, and over what period.

    Locally, our public schools have done little to close the gap for families who do not have the luxuries ours enjoys. (We are in that rare minority who have actually flourished during the rotating lockdowns, largely because we had the means and opportunity to go our own way.) But what about those who cannot? I have heard no discussion about expanding public funding to extend the school year to retrench. Last summer saw no classes offered to students who were falling behind, and there is zero discussion of such a solution for 2021.

    There has been a patchwork roll-out of virtual/B&M hybrid delivery models. After a year of pandemic restrictions, I find it challenging to believe that our collective education sector has not identified basic wins in delivery, and tried to more effectively mitigate downside risk for those in need. For example, in a fit of curiosity, I designed a full-semester curriculum for one subject for my DS and created a Google Classroom, complete with embedded lessons and meeting links, over the weekend. It took me 4 hours, starting flat-footed with no prior materials. It was dead easy and required minimal initiative.

    The Atlantic, with its usual panache, has anticipated my concern in this excellent article. Key quotes below:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/03/how-to-get-our-kids-back-on-track/618269/

    Originally Posted By: Atlantic
    If districts focus too much on remediating “learning loss”—holding kids back a grade, categorizing students according to their deficits, and centering lesson plans on catch-up work—the students who have experienced the most trauma and disconnection during the pandemic may be assigned to the lowest level and most stigmatized groups. They will be viewed as deficient, and the inequities in place before and during the pandemic will be further amplified. Children, having been told that they are behind, will internalize the story of their loss.

    But our kids are not broken. To foster students’ growth, districts should think beyond traditional ways of grading and teaching. Instead of federal and district test results becoming labels, handed down as if from on high, districts should use them diagnostically, as guides only, and encourage teachers to collaborate with students in understanding their skill profiles so that the kids feel empowered in their own development. Schools should also recognize their students’ resilience over this past year, support their healing and emotional growth, and honor them with meaningful and challenging academic work, not with remedial classes. That’s how we’ll get our children back on track.

    Districts face a hard reality, though: Many children lost a great deal of academic growth last year; some kids didn’t attend school at all. Districts need to know which students need extra support, including tutoring in and outside the classroom. But educators need to assess students’ abilities in a way that motivates them to grow.


    I'm also sharing a publicly accessible deck McKinsey shared on closing equity gaps in Covid learning losses. Please enjoy!

    (Pro tip: slide 57 shares some intriguing options from Maryland and France. The French Minister for Education said, "We need a pedagogical Netflix, centralized and free.")

    Thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Tidbits to share from having an ear to the ground locally?

    You have my attention.

    _________________________
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    #248371 - 03/22/21 04:29 AM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    spaghetti Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/05/15
    Posts: 474
    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    It's no surprise to anyone here that schools are generally in a damage control mode, attempting (hopefully) to minimize learning loss from pandemic-related disruptions. A question I've been expecting to hear from educators and public policymakers - but haven't yet - is why we believe learning loss to be inevitable, and over what period.

    Many local school systems take direction from the state they are in and despite autonomy on paper, lack the actual system to look at thrivers vs strugglers. Some states have cancelled their testing --- nobody knows what's been lost or who has thrived. The consensus I've been hearing is that we can't know until everyone is back to "normal". Where tests can be given in more controlled circumstances. There's just too many unknowns. IMO public school is more about the system and meeting the needs of ALL, and less about looking at this one thriving here and that one failing there.
    Originally Posted By: aquinas

    Locally, our public schools have done little to close the gap for families who do not have the luxuries ours enjoys. (We are in that rare minority who have actually flourished during the rotating lockdowns, largely because we had the means and opportunity to go our own way.) But what about those who cannot? I have heard no discussion about expanding public funding to extend the school year to retrench. Last summer saw no classes offered to students who were falling behind, and there is zero discussion of such a solution for 2021.

    Then you have not been everywhere. I know of some school systems that have sent people into the homes daily to help children log on and participate in virtual education, who have had extra tutoring for an hour each morning built into the school day for those who are thought to be falling behind.

    As far as summer programs, that's a tough one. In our system, it was offered, many parents declined, but some did accept the opportunity.

    I do think that many of the efforts are not well publicized. During this time, rumors fly between parents and it works better to invite students that the teachers are concerned.

    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    There has been a patchwork roll-out of virtual/B&M hybrid delivery models. After a year of pandemic restrictions, I find it challenging to believe that our collective education sector has not identified basic wins in delivery, and tried to more effectively mitigate downside risk for those in need. For example, in a fit of curiosity, I designed a full-semester curriculum for one subject for my DS and created a Google Classroom, complete with embedded lessons and meeting links, over the weekend. It took me 4 hours, starting flat-footed with no prior materials. It was dead easy and required minimal initiative.


    I think what you're looking for has been happening in the private schools who were able to pivot quickly to virtual learning, and then plan and implement in person learning fairly efficiently. But public is a different story.

    A huge bureaucracy with massive staffs and rules and regulations where the situation does not fit the system.
    Teachers are struggling mightily. The amount of work put on them is extreme and they've been asked to pivot on a dime multiple times to implement plans that are not set up for success. So then they are asked to do something else. They are leaving the profession. We are down 30% in school based staff in our state an unable to hire even warm bodies. I think it is unlikely that anyone has the extra effort to look at designing new curriculum under these circumstances. The survival of public schooling is challenge enough.

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    #248374 - 03/22/21 07:20 AM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Thanks spaghetti! I appreciate you putting fingers to keyboard and sharing your observations. Back with a proper reply later...
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    #248377 - 03/22/21 01:14 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    I'm in competition with one of the minors in this house for my computer, so I'll have to come back for a real response later, but I'll just note that my state has proposed a number of responses, including summer, using annual testing diagnostically, and discouraging grade retentions this year.
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    #248379 - 03/22/21 02:50 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    For a frame of reference, this article would be considered ahead of the curve in Canada in terms of data collection and loss mitigation.

    I will also put in a shameless plug for the author, who has demonstrated herself to be a thoughtful, intersectional researcher. She is both a lawyer who has worked with marginalized communities and a doctoral education researcher, with a focus on Indigenous populations. Her compassion and sharp mind are formidable. When she speaks, I listen carefully.

    https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines...g-the-pandemic/

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    #248380 - 03/22/21 03:25 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    So much good to quote from spaghetti, so this will be long...

    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    Many local school systems take direction from the state they are in and despite autonomy on paper, lack the actual system to look at thrivers vs strugglers. Some states have cancelled their testing --- nobody knows what's been lost or who has thrived. The consensus I've been hearing is that we can't know until everyone is back to "normal".


    I think you hit the nail on the head here about autonomy and information gathering. Now, full disclosure, I'm no fan of weeks-long standardized tests. However, streamlined tools exist, and could be implemented to baseline student progress. If you can't measure a problem, you can't engineer a targeted solution.

    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    Then you have not been everywhere. I know of some school systems that have sent people into the homes daily to help children log on and participate in virtual education, who have had extra tutoring for an hour each morning built into the school day for those who are thought to be falling behind.


    I can only speak first-hand to my experience, but am eager to hear what other places are doing.

    I am delighted to hear this! Our province offered a maximum of two to three weeks of summer catch-up, and uptake was dismal, because program dates were released after parents had already pre-committed to camps and childcare, most of which have non-refundable deposits. *facepalm*

    The McKinsey deck I added really fascinated me, because France seemed to have a thoughtful roll-out of its programming, with an understanding of the UX for families to drive enrollments in discretionary programming and reduce stigma of participating. Even Mozambique (no disrespect to Mozambique) had put together a realistic and ambitious hiring campaign 6 months ago.

    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    A huge bureaucracy with massive staffs and rules and regulations where the situation does not fit the system.


    I actually see this differently. Bureaucracy aside (and I think we can agree about the inefficiencies of bureaucracy), a large system allows a lot of simultaneous experiments to be undertaken to find the best solution, or a range of solutions that fit in different contexts.

    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    I think it is unlikely that anyone has the extra effort to look at designing new curriculum under these circumstances.


    I think you might have misunderstood my comment upthread about creating a Google Classroom. I didn't mean to suggest new curricula should be developed. Rather, that is what I was able to create - a tech novice on the tool, with no prior curriculum I'd developed. For teachers who have prior curriculum, converting that to online in all but a few exceptional classes should be both feasible and reasonable on a short turnaround.

    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    I think what you're looking for has been happening in the private schools who were able to pivot quickly to virtual learning, and then plan and implement in person learning fairly efficiently.


    Fair point. But in a school like ours, with no prior online tools, and with comparable tuition fees and teacher-student ratios to the public schools, it begs the question: why the disparity? Here's part of the answer: our teachers and administrators worked over the two-week March break to build out the online system, so it was at least a minimum viable product when the students returned online. Our public neighbours faced multiple weeks of shutdowns, bickering over quotas for synchronous learning, and, frankly, chaotic roll-out.

    As to public schools struggling, absolutely. From your description, the situation where you are sounds quite dire, and I imagine health and occupational safety considerations are pretty central to those difficulties for teachers. They have my heartfelt sympathy. I'm cognizant that we have been fortunate where I am, in that the health lens has been quite good, and so there hasn't been an exodus of teachers from the public system.

    However, what has been accomplished in my neck of the woods isn't overly impressive, IMO. And you and I may be talking at cross-purposes about our respective public schools, so bear that in mind. The head of one of the largest K-12 unions in my province recently went on the record advocating for a moratorium on all standardized testing until 2022. That, to me, is unconscionable. It's this false binary thinking of "full throttle testing or nothing" that does not engender nimble solutions. (I am in no way attributing that straw man to you.) There is a lot of territory between those extremes that a) doesn't over-tax students or test administrators, b) gathers information diagnostically and non-punitively, and c) allows for a more informed and evidence-based evolution.

    And I know this is just an anecdote - and I'm sure it can equally be matched with stories of dedicated public teachers: this past June, I spoke with a high school teacher who lives on my street. When I asked him about how he's helping his students cover learning losses, he said, "Oh, I just need a vacation. They can wait until September." That indolence is what's wrong with Canada's education system, in a nutshell.

    Gosh, that was quite a rant, wasn't it?
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    #248381 - 03/22/21 05:22 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Here's a concrete example for math that could have been adopted in English-language classrooms (other languages might be available; I didn't look.) This is a plug-and-play Singapore Math curriculum that could be used in grade 3-5 distance learning classes. The program is expanding down to grades 1-2 this year.

    A full video series for one year of curriculum costs $85 and, depending on which textbooks you want, and whether you incorporate workbook exercises, let's add another $50 for books, shipping, and taxes.

    That's $135 for a bare-minimum, no-teacher solution that could then free up teacher resources for the highest-need students, roughly 1.1% of the average annual per capita student budget in the US.

    The schools could even take the initiative to bulk purchase the texts and workbooks, and have them shipped directly to students' homes.

    Multiple layers of redundancy. Opportunities for students to accelerate. Teacher time freed up to target high needs students. Low cost and evidence-based. In a pandemic, what's the downside? Frankly, in normal times, what's the downside?

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    #248386 - 03/23/21 08:28 AM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    Anyway, I have already gone on too long. I'm not saying it's a good system at all. The public schools are inefficient and the pandemic made that quite clear. Systems that had computers in place for every child did a little better because they didn't have to go through the process of getting funding approved, then multiple bids, then finding a provider for the chromebooks--- that took multiple months! I'm not defending them, just trying to offer a view.


    Please don't ever feel you're going on too long. I value your thoughts, spaghetti, as I'm sure others do. smile

    It sounds like an absurd and infuriating situation, with systemic failures from the top down, and red tape obstructing initiative at every stage. Even with everyone doing their sincere best, it sounds doomed.

    What are they implementing now?
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    #248388 - 03/23/21 07:34 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    Many good points upthread, both ideas and practical challenges. I likely won't do many of them justice (or will just inadvertently overlook some--not a mark of their relative importance at all, just my imperfect memory!).

    I'll start by fleshing out my telegraphed comments from yesterday a bit:

    Our state is going ahead with annual state-wide testing (which it did not last year, under the US DOE waiver). The stated rationale is that this will be considered a diagnostic year, rather than an evaluative year (in the language of education, "formative" rather than "summative"). No negative accountability impacts will accrue to districts or teachers, and additional options and opportunities to meet state competency criteria will be provided to high school students, especially the class of 2021. Non-competency years (prior to high school) will receive a shortened version of the test. My understanding is that they plan to use results to guide remediation plans moving forward, likely over the next two to three years, or even longer.

    The DOE is also planning to stand up summer remediation sessions open to all students regardless of disability status, and supposedly, will roll-out supports in the fall as well.

    I wish our building were taking more consistent and specific data on the impact of remote/hybrid/full-time in-person learning--but at the same time, we've been in synchronous learning all year for all formats, and already had a robust online suite of tools, including 1:1 devices for students and staff. We were able to purchase loaner wifi hotspots for any student without reliable internet at home from our state technology grants. All of which is to say that the difference between remote and in-person academic instruction has probably been slightly smaller for our building than for many others.

    I do think many of the teachers in our already-tech-savvy school have found additional technology tools for interactive online learning that they like and see application for moving forward, regardless of setting, which may merely be another reflection of the observation made in previous posts that schools who were already prepared to be somewhat flexible in pivoting to remote learning were not only more likely to do so successfully (as one might expect), but more likely to embrace the silver linings that emerged in the process.

    And to underline spaghetti's comments about the challenges so many public school districts faced: we had no interruption in access to technology, because we already had our annual order for new ChromeBooks for our incoming admits (all earlier admission cohorts already had them) placed and paid for early in the spring, prior to the nationwide (worldwide, even) stampede for 1:1 devices. IOW, it was in the plan and the budget. We had no interruption in curriculum or teacher preparation, because we already had a state-approved emergency remote learning plan (for weather emergencies, originally), and teachers well-versed in online learning platforms. This left us in a much better position (albeit still struggling) to deal with all of the things we had not prepared for, like students who were essential workers, or providing childcare for younger relatives while their essential worker parents were out of the home, or lived in crowded multigenerational households where they couldn't find a quiet place to do their work or get on Zoom/Meet, or were reliant on free breakfast/lunch to get adequate nutrition.
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    #248389 - 03/23/21 07:59 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    Just read through the article you linked upthread, aquinas. I find a lot of points of agreement with the author. A couple of key ones:

    -the value of widespread or at least representative sampling of student academic and social-emotional progress. Note the old educational assessment adage: what gets measured gets funded.

    -mine the existing data on educational approaches from natural experiments across the continent. In a fairly practical example, this was in large part how the CDC in the US decided it was appropriate to reduce physical distancing in schools from six feet to three feet: the state of Massachusetts gave schools a mandate of three feet, but a recommendation of six feet; districts made different choices, but reported comparable infection data.

    In another variation of the natural experiment, I happen to know that there are a number of projects out there being undertaken by major educational publishers (of course, my sources are heavily weighted toward assessment and focused interventions) making use of the academic and social-emotional circumstances of the pandemic to develop or validate new educationally-relevant tools.
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    #248393 - 03/24/21 12:05 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    ojojojoj Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 05/31/18
    Posts: 12
    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    Here's a concrete example for math that could have been adopted in English-language classrooms (other languages might be available; I didn't look.) This is a plug-and-play Singapore Math curriculum that could be used in grade 3-5 distance learning classes. The program is expanding down to grades 1-2 this year.


    Aquinas (or anyone else),

    Are you aware of other comparable video resources to cover language arts or other subject areas? We've been using Generation Genius at home as a science resource and it's been wonderful. Generation Genius is also going to start offering video math lessons. If I knew of solid curricula (accompanied by video instruction) for language arts and social studies it might shift my calculus on whether it's possible to homeschool the early grades while working. It's not that I want to farm out all the instruction, but it would be nice to be able to have pockets of time where my child could watch something and I could concentrate and then we could meet back up on the lesson afterwards. We've been using the book version of Singapore's Dimensions Math at home and I'm very happy with it. It would be nice if the materials cross-referenced to common core standards for each subject area because I would prefer to ensure she could drop back into a typical classroom in a future year without having gaps in the material everyone else had encountered.

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    #248395 - 03/24/21 06:41 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1694
    Loc: Australia
    There are live classes with Michael Clay Thompson on Royal Fireworks? Not a cheap option.

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    #248397 - 03/25/21 01:12 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    nessy.com is an excellent OG-based reading & writing online self-paced curriculum family with skills through the end of elementary school (K-5 reading, 1-6 spelling). It has the bonus feature of having been developed in the UK, so the original version can be used by our friends in Commonwealth countries. (When I first looked at it a few years back, it was in British English only.)

    If we are talking specifically about filling instructional gaps as we emerge from COVID, then Nessy would be a good option for language arts foundations.

    And there's also Reading Horizons/Elevate. Also an online OG reading intervention (I'm listing mostly OG reading programs because why not pick something that works for almost all learners?).

    Lexia has a number of online, self-paced, evidence-based programs for K-5 reading.


    Edited by aeh (03/25/21 06:26 PM)
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    #248398 - 03/25/21 05:21 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Hi oj - you might want to look into the Johns Hopkins online course catalogue for CTY. Online courses are offered starting for grade 2:

    https://cty.jhu.edu/online/courses/index.html

    Back with more replies for other posters soon!
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    #248407 - 03/26/21 06:39 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    ...develop or validate new educationally-relevant tools


    On that note, I came across an interesting sounding Canadian learning platform that received seed funding recently! It's very much akin to a scalable AOPS + Alcumus model. Think: Shopify ecommerce capabilities + connected communities + Google Classroom.

    https://betakit.com/virtual-live-learning-platform-disco-raises-6-million-cad-seed-round/

    aeh, if your teachers are interested, Disco just finished its beta test and is taking a waitlist for its early adopters.
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    #248408 - 03/26/21 06:42 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Oj - also, re: Dimensions, I suspect the curriculum maps pretty closely to the other Singapore Math products, one of which is tied to Common Core. If video instruction is a key part of the value for you, I suspect you can get away with using the CC edition and still carve out that expected time for your own work.

    PS. If ever you'd like to PM me, this past year has been much what you describe - DS enrolled virtually in his usual brick and mortar school with me working and co-teaching. We're previous full-time homeschoolers, as well.
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    #248414 - 03/26/21 09:31 PM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3990
    There's a Dimensions Math-CC scope and sequence crosswalk:
    https://www.singaporemath.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/CCSS_to_DMK-4.pdf

    On a quick scan, I saw negligible differences on a year-over-year basis.


    Edited by aeh (03/26/21 09:34 PM)
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    #249445 - 12/21/21 02:27 AM Re: Fixing covid learning losses [Re: aquinas]
    bellastinson Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/14/21
    Posts: 2
    Loc: Turkey
    happy to read your idea. keep us up to date with your awesome information.
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