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How to Combat the Learning Loss of the Last Two Years

by | Apr 19, 2022

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Using High-Dosage Tutoring and Summer School to Address Elementary Learning Gaps

The pandemic has changed the world as we know it in so many ways. Unfortunately, the vastness of its effects has yet to come to complete fruition among our youngest students, who faced shut-downs, school closures, hybrid learning, quarantines, and no access to in-person learning during some of the most formative months of their academic lives. As time moves on, we see the increasing academic effects of learning loss beyond the initial impact of Covid-19 and the unprecedented 2020 school year.

While there has always been a “summer slide” in the past, parents and educators have discovered that the luxury previously enjoyed (taking a pause and briefly setting academic learning aside for the summer months) is no longer a viable option for our young learners if we want to slow down and reverse the growing gaps in learning.

How can educators encourage parents to help?

Encourage parents to

  • Provide ample time for active play and physical activity.
  • Ensure students are getting adequate sleep and that their nutritional needs are met.
  • Communicate regularly with teachers and other support staff.
  • Engage in fun learning opportunities alongside their child, such as museums, documentaries, field trips, library trips, and community events.
  • Enjoy reading a variety of book genres to their child.
  • Give themselves and their children time and space to relax, rest, play, and spend quality time together.
  • Take care of themselves and reach out to ask for help if they need it.

Ideally, families offer academic support and help at home, but that isn’t always realistic, nor is it sufficient. For many at-risk or underserved populations, students rely on their schools to foster the majority of academic support. Our students require comprehensive, effective, and intensive academic support to combat the learning loss experienced.

What are some effective methods of support that work?

  • High dosage tutoring, also referred to as targeted intensive tutoring, is effectively delivered by qualified and talented teachers to groups no larger than 3-4 students for at least three sessions per week over an extended number of weeks.
  • Engaging and rigorous summer school programming incorporates more than just remediation but offers innovative instruction and student-led learning experiences designed to accelerate and enrich student learning.

Relying on reducing class size to make up for learning losses over the last two years is insufficient to reach the gains necessary to combat the adverse outcomes Covid-19 has placed on our students’ academic successes. Instead, providing students in grades K-3 with teacher-supported tutoring over frequent and extended periods in a one-on-one setting produces the most significant learning gains.

How can educators and educational leaders implement high-dosage tutoring?

  • Utilize teachers with extensive experience and training and pair teachers with less experienced staff to help guide, support, and mentor.
  • Participate in professional development opportunities to learn instructional strategies and techniques.
  • Make every attempt to keep the student-tutor ratio at 4:1 or fewer, if possible, as this proves to be the most effective and efficient way to accelerate learning.
  • Provide a standards-based curriculum that is aligned to the scope and sequence and ensure teachers have access to support and training on content and materials.
  • Focus on supporting students who have not yet mastered math and reading standards.
  • Encourage and facilitate tutoring sessions multiple times per week for the best results.
  • Target young students with early interventions for the most effective outcomes.

Offering students support through a summer school approach is another way to combat the learning loss that naturally occurs during the summer months, which is even more critical due to the Covid-19 slide. Ideally, students would have access to both methods for the best success outcomes in academic gains.

How can educators and educational leaders structure an effective summer school experience?

  • Make the experience interesting so that it does not feel like “just another day at school.” To get the most out of the experience, students need to be actively engaged and provided with learning opportunities that address skill gaps and accelerate growth.
  • Provide unique access to equipment, experiences, programs, and engaging opportunities that increase the likelihood of summer school attendance.
  • Novelty is key! Provide new materials rather than picking up where the school year ended. Students and teachers are tired at the end of a school year. Opening up the same textbooks and modeling summer school as an extension of the school year can be counterproductive, leading to students (and even teachers) shutting down mentally and emotionally.
  • Allow for student collaboration and ownership in their learning. For example, instead of plugging away through a workbook, facilitate a group project that students get to choose, investigate, and share. When students lead their learning, they’re much more likely to be engaged.
  • Prioritize consistency, relationships, and fun! Building relationships with students and offering a consistent routine and dependability helps build trust and safety, making learning more accessible. Infusing fun throughout the day is vital to keep students engaged, ready, and willing to return!

Students with diverse learning needs have experienced the most academic setbacks due to the effects of Covid-19. High dosage tutoring and quality summer school opportunities can help lessen the achievement gaps amongst traditionally underserved student populations. Schools desire to provide these essential services to the students who need them most. While it may seem overwhelming, there is help, support, and guidance available for instructional leaders and teachers.

At the Center for Student Achievement Solutions, we provide professional development solutions that are backed by research and evidence-based practices that accelerate growth and close the achievement gap. Schedule a free call with one of our CSAS experts to learn more about how we can help your school offer the critical support your students need for success!

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