Tuesday, April 6, 2021

How Do Students Catch Up After a Lost Year? - The Atlantic

How Do Students Catch Up After a Lost Year? - The Atlantic
Reopening Schools Is the Easy Part
Helping students catch up will be a much more difficult task.

None of this will be cheap, and after a year of unexpected expenses—laptops for students, facilities upgrades—many districts have exhausted their reserve funds. School-finance experts estimate that districts have lost north of $200 billion during the pandemic. The recently enacted COVID-19 relief bill includes $126 billion for K–12 schools, 20 percent of which is designated for helping districts make up for learning loss. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut successfully pushed for some of the funding to go to summer enrichment programs like those Columbus is planning. “While we were so laser-focused on learning loss, we forget the emotional toll that the last year has taken,” Murphy told me. “More kids than we think are going to need an emotional and psychological recharge this summer and are going to need to have a safe, fun, uplifting experience to kind of reset their brains so they’re ready to learn in the fall.”

No one I spoke with has any illusions that students will magically catch up because districts are extending the school year or offering more summer classes. If history is a guide, the commitment from state and federal officials for robust financial support will likely dissipate as soon as students from well-off families are fully back in classrooms. America has a habit of forgetting its Black, brown, and low-income citizens. Leaders like Woods and Dixon say they are looking at years of remediation, not months. “It will go way beyond 2021,” Woods told me. But the summer is a start.

ADAM HARRIS is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the forthcoming book The State Must Provide.