Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The Post-Pandemic Teaching Loss: ‘How are we doing with teacher rustiness and rigor? Not good.’; What the Covid-19 Pandemic Revealed About Remote School , and other C-Virus related stories

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
WSJ: The Post-Pandemic Teaching Loss:
‘How are we doing with teacher rustiness and rigor? Not good.’
Schools were given $190 billion in federal money for Covid safety measures and to help students catch up, and many have poured funds into tutoring or other programs. Then why are test scores still lagging? A new report suggests that pandemic learning loss is being exacerbated by teaching loss.
School administrators say that “their recovery plans have proven nearly impossible to successfully implement, primarily due to staffing and training challenges,” according to researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, who interviewed leadership from five public charter and traditional school districts. All the systems said classroom teaching had suffered, “which meant improving day-to-day instruction had to be their top priority.”
The most disheartening part of the report is the direct quotes from school leaders on everything from an “erosion of professional expectations” to teacher turnover:
• “We spent a lot of money on retention bonuses and ‘please stay’ payments. You might as well burn that money because it didn’t bear out. People left anyway. People took their checks and walked.”
• “There are a lot of teachers [who] reverted to . . . traditional practices. There are a lot more teachers just delivering content and kids being very disengaged.”
• “How are we doing with teacher rustiness and rigor? Not good.”
• “There’s . . . a lot of, ‘we’re just getting through the day and . . . that’s all we’re doing.’” --->READ MORE HERE
John Moore/Getty Images
What the Covid-19 Pandemic Revealed About Remote School:
The transition to online learning in the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic was, by many accounts, a failure. While there were some bright spots across the country, the transition was messy and uneven — countless teachers had neither the materials nor training they needed to effectively connect with students remotely, while many of those students were bored, isolated, and lacked the resources they needed to learn. The results were abysmal: low test scores, fewer children learning at grade level, increased inequity, and teacher burnout. With the public health crisis on top of deaths and job losses in many families, students experienced increases in depression, anxiety, and suicide risk.
Yet society very well may face new widespread calamities in the near future, from another pandemic to extreme weather, that will require a similarly quick shift to remote school. Success will hinge on big changes, from infrastructure to teacher training, several experts told Undark. “We absolutely need to invest in ways for schools to run continuously, to pick up where they left off. But man, it’s a tall order,” said Heather L. Schwartz, a senior policy researcher at RAND. “It’s not good enough for teachers to simply refer students to disconnected, stand-alone videos on, say, YouTube. Students need lessons that connect directly to what they were learning before school closed.”
More than three years after U.S. schools shifted to remote instruction on an emergency basis, the education sector is still largely unprepared for another long-term interruption of in-person school. The stakes are highest for those who need it most: low-income children and students of color, who are also most likely to be harmed in a future pandemic or live in communities most affected by climate change. But, given the abundance of research on what didn’t work during the pandemic, school leaders may have the opportunity to do things differently next time. Being ready would require strategic planning, rethinking the role of the teacher, and using new technology wisely, experts told Undark. And many problems with remote learning actually trace back not to technology, but to basic instructional quality. Effective remote learning won’t happen if schools aren’t already employing best practices in the physical classroom, such as creating a culture of learning from mistakes, empowering teachers to meet individual student needs, establishing high expectations, and setting clear goals supported by frequent feedback. While it’s ambitious to envision that every school district will create seamless virtual learning platforms — and, for that matter, overcome challenges in education more broadly — the lessons of the pandemic are there to be followed or ignored.
“We haven’t done anywhere near the amount of planning or the development of the instructional infrastructure needed to allow for a smooth transition next time schools need to close for prolonged periods of time,” Schwartz said. “Until we can reach that goal, I don’t have high confidence that the next prolonged school closure will be substantially more successful.”
Before the pandemic, only 3 percent of U.S. school districts offered virtual school, mostly for students with unique circumstances, such as a disability or those intensely pursuing a sport or the performing arts, according to a RAND survey Schwartz co-authored. For the most part, the educational technology companies and developers creating software for these schools promised to give students a personalized experience. But the research on these programs, which focused on virtual charter schools that only existed online, showed poor outcomes. Their students were a year behind in math and nearly a half-year behind in reading, and courses offered less direct time with a teacher each week than regular schools have in a day. --->READ MORE HERE
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