Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Covid-19 has disrupted many aspects of our lives, one of which is the way we learn. Remote learning, zoom classroom, and hybrid model are familiar words by now. No less common are frustration and concerns by parents over wasted opportunities in learning. Covid-19 learning loss, a still under-investigated phenomenon, is gaining more attention as more data is gathered and analyzed in the US and worldwide.
Concerns aside, is Covid-19 learning loss really a big deal? And how bad is it? Multiple researchers so far have shown that the loss is significant and real. Based on data from 19 states, Stanford researchers estimated that learning loss is "57 to 183 days of learning in Reading and from 136 to 232 days of learning in Math." This is only for the 2019-2020 school year. With further school closures in 2020-2021, the lost learning days could very well lengthen. McKinsey, the well-known consulting firm, also provided its own estimate. A report published in Dec.2020 predicted that the cumulative learning loss from the beginning of the school closure in spring 2020 to June 2021 would be five to nine months of learning. The learning loss was especially wide for students of color—"Students of color could be six to 12 months behind, compared with four to eight months for white students. While all students are suffering, those who came into the pandemic with the fewest academic opportunities are on track to exit with the greatest learning loss."
McKinsey translated the learning loss to an earning loss of $1,348 a year for white students, $2,186 less a year for Black students, and $1,809 less a year for Hispanic students. That is a total of $54k-87k loss over a 40-year working life.
Various measures have been proposed by researchers and educators. McKinsey's own recommendations include 50 hours of targeted instruction over two weeks or high-intensity tutoring, which is 50 minutes of daily tutoring for a year-but both come with a steep price tag.
We will know more as school fully reopens this fall and performance tests are once again administered. But why wait? Take action now and recoup the loss.