We recently passed the two-year anniversary of US school closures that transformed schooling for students, teachers and parents.

The pandemic induced the largest remote learning experiment in history. But, lack of time to prepare for remote education and unequal internet and device access left many students unserved or underserved.

It was undoubtedly one of the most challenging times for education in our history. We will be dealing with its ripple effects on the education system for years.

The confluence of many issues continues to swirl and the big question remains, “What was the impact on student learning?”

Numerous studies confirm the widely held belief that students lost ground due to COVID-related disruptions. There are broad assumptions about the full impact of learning loss among students across different geographies, learning modalities and student groups. However, educators and parents want to know one thing – how did the pandemic affect my child and my students?

Uncovering the impact of COVID on student learning

Education is not, nor should it be, a one-size-fits-all. Sweeping generalizations will not allow teachers to personalize interventions for students.

Taking a hard data-driven look at the impact of the pandemic on student learning can uncover unexpected nuances in the outcomes.

States like Tennessee and North Carolina have published learning loss studies that evidence the variation of loss among and between groups of students, districts and modalities. The data details key factors including actual vs. pre-pandemic test score achievement and focus areas such as having reliable internet connectivity.

While Tennessee experienced loss throughout the state, they had a handful of bright spots where districts helped students exceed pre-pandemic expectations.

We recognize the importance of releasing this new projected data to continue to speak honestly about the learning loss that has occurred...and provide solutions to get our students back on track.

- Rachael Maves, Chief of Performance and Preparation, Tennessee Department of Education

North Carolina’s analysis of lost instructional time described areas of concern. In it, North Carolina State Superintendent Catherine Truitt reiterated the importance of using data to inform forward-looking strategies on the path toward recovery.

The state studies are different but the data provides vital information to identify the students impacted the most, helping determine paths toward learning recovery.

These findings are critical to understanding how we continue to work towards recovery and acceleration statewide. This data is a significant step forward in our work to identify the challenges so we can continue developing and supporting district run interventions that accelerate student learning.

- Catherine Truitt, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction

An accurate assessment of the depth and extent of learning loss will enable districts and states to support students in moving past the pandemic and into a successful future. That accuracy depends on data.

Join us on May 18 for a panel discussion on the topic of “Learning Loss or Gain?” Hear from Maves and Michael Maher, executive director of the Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as they discuss their states’ results and how they are making program changes based on data to help students get back on track.

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About Author

Melody Schopp, PhD

Director of Education Industry Consulting, SAS

Dr. Melody Schopp serves as the Director of Education Industry Consulting at the SAS Institute, supporting the Education Practice to empower education leaders and states to use analytics to improve student outcomes. Following two decades of classroom experience, Dr. Schopp entered the South Dakota Department of Education where she served in numerous director positions to include Deputy Secretary. She was appointed Secretary of Education by Governor Dennis Daugaard in 2010 and served for seven years as part of his cabinet. Prior to joining SAS in 2020, Schopp spent three years as a national education consultant with various clients focused on improving opportunities for students both academically and emotionally. Dr. Schopp had the privilege to serve in leadership positions for various national organizations. She was a board member and elected president of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Additionally, she was treasurer of Education Commission of the States and on the board of directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Schopp has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education, and a PhD from the University of Lincoln, Nebraska in higher education and leadership.

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