How Does Society Influence Education – Megan Kuhfeld, Megan Kuhfeld Research Scientist – NWEA @MeganKuhfeld Jim Soland, Assistant Professor Jim Soland, School of Education and Human Development – University of Virginia, Research Associate – NWEA @jsoland Karyn Lewis, and Karyn Lewis Director, Center for Schools and Student Development – NWEA @KarynLew Emily Morton Emily Morton Research Scientist – NWEA @emily_r_morton

As we reach the two-year mark of the first wave of pandemic school closures, academic legitimacy remains elusive to students, educators and parents. In addition to the spike in COVID-19 cases in late 2021, schools faced staffing shortages, high absenteeism rates and school quarantines and closures. In addition, students and educators continue to struggle with mental health challenges, rates of violence and misconduct, and concerns about lost instructional time.

How Does Society Influence Education

How Does Society Influence Education

As we point out in a new research study published in January, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student achievement is significant. We tracked changes in math and test scores during the first two years of the pandemic using data from 5.4 million US students in grades 3-8. We focused on test scores immediately before the outbreak (fall 2019), after the first onset (fall 2020), and more than a year after the outbreak (fall 2021).

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The mean math test scores in the fall of 2021 in grades 3-8 were 0.20-0.27 standard deviations (SDs) lower than those of the same grade in the fall of 2019, while The reading score was 0.09-0.18 SDs. That’s a huge reduction. For context, the decline in math was much larger than estimates from other major school disruptions, such as after Hurricane Katrina—math scores dropped 0.17 SD in the year for those transferred to New Orleans.

What is also very worrying is that the gap between students in low-poverty and high-quality elementary schools, especially during the 2020-21 school year. year. Additionally, achievement was significantly lower between fall 2020 and 2021 than between fall 2019 and 2020 (both overall and different from school poverty), indicating that the Disruption of learning continued to have a negative impact on students after the first strike after the 2020 school closure. .

These numbers are alarming and can be depressing, especially given the valiant efforts of students to learn and educators to teach in incredibly difficult times. From our perspective, these drops in test scores in no way indicate that these students represent a “lost generation” or that we should give up hope. Most of us haven’t lived through a pandemic, and there’s a lot we don’t know about students’ resilience in these situations and what the recovery period might look like. Nor are we suggesting that teachers are at fault for the decline in performance between 2020 and 2021; instead, educators had a difficult job before the pandemic, and are facing huge new challenges, many beyond their control.

Of course, there is work to be done. School districts and states are making important decisions now about what interventions and strategies to implement to mitigate the decline in learning over the past two years. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) investment from the American Rescue Plan provided nearly $200 billion to public schools to use for needs related to COVID-19. Of this amount, $22 billion is specifically earmarked for addressing learning loss through “evidence-based interventions” focused on the “disparate impact of COVID-19 on ‘the most insignificant group of students.’ Reviews of district and state spending plans (see Future Ed, EduRecoveryHub, and RAND’s American School District Panel for more) indicate that districts spend ESSER dollars earmarked for of learning recovery in a variety of strategies, including summer learning, tutoring, after-school programs, and extended school days and senior year.

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To help understand the extent of the impact of COVID-19, we compare the decline in testing numbers during the pandemic to the gains in testing relative to the district’s routine interventions. as part of the epidemic recovery effort. If we assume that such interventions will continue to be effective in the context of the COVID-19 school, can we expect these strategies to be effective in helping students achieve? To answer this question, we draw on recent research on intensive instruction, summer programs, reduced class sizes, and extended school days (especially for reading instruction). speech and writing). We report effect sizes for each intervention specific to grade length and subject when possible (eg, tutoring was found to have a larger effect on basic math than reading).

Figure 1 shows the standardized decline in math test scores between students taking the fall 2019 and fall 2021 tests (separated by elementary and middle school scores). ) compared to the average effect of various interventions. The average effect size for math education matches or exceeds the average COVID-19 effect in math. Teaching research indicates that it is often most effective at younger grades, and when given by teachers rather than parents, for example. Additionally, some of the programs that produce the greatest results can be very intensive (and likely expensive), including having full-time teachers to support all students (not just those which only requires remediation) in a single setting during the school day. Meanwhile, the average effect of class size reduction is negative but not significant, with the effect varying across studies. Math summer programs have been shown to be effective (effect sizes up to 0.10 SD), although these programs alone may not reverse the decline in COVID-19 scores.

Source: The drop in the number of COVID-19 is taken from Kuhfeld et al. (2022) Table 5; Reduction-in-class results are from pg. 10 of Figles et al. (2018) Table 2; Summer program results are taken from Lynch et al (2021) Table 2; and education estimates are taken from Nictow et al (2020) Table 3B. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals are shown with a vertical line in each bar.

How Does Society Influence Education

Note: Kuhfeld et al. and Nictow et al. effect sizes were reported separately by class length; Figles et al. and Lynch et al. reporting overall effect sizes across elementary and middle grades. We were unable to find any rigorous studies that reported the size of the effect of extending school days/years on math performance. Nichtow et al. and Kraft & Falken (2021) note significant variation in instructional outcomes depending on teacher type, with larger effects for teacher and paraprofessional education programs than nonprofessional and parent education. mother. Class size reduction included in the Figles meta-analysis ranged from a minimum of one to eight students per class.

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Figure 2 shows a similar comparison using the product size from the readings. The average effect of the tutoring program on reading achievement was greater than the effect found for other interventions, even summer reading programs and reduced class sizes. both published average effect sizes in the ballpark of the COVID-19 reading numbers.

Source: The drop in the number of COVID-19 is taken from Kuhfeld et al. (2022) Table 5; Study day results are from Figlio et al. (2018) Table 2; Reduction-in-class results are from pg. 10 of Figles et al. (2018); Summer program results are taken from Kim & Quinn (2013) Table 3; and education estimates are taken from Nictow et al (2020) Table 3B. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals are shown with a vertical line in each bar.

Note: While Kuhfeld et al. and Nictow et al. reported effect sizes separated by grade level, Figlio et al. and Kim & Quinn report main and moderate effect sizes. Class size reduction included in the Figles meta-analysis ranged from a minimum of one to eight students per class.

There are some limitations to conducting pre-pandemic research to understand our ability to cope with the decline in COVID-19 testing. First, these studies were conducted under conditions that are different from what schools are currently facing, and it is an open question whether the effectiveness of these interventions during the pandemic will be the same. before the epidemic. Second, there is little evidence and guidance on the effectiveness of these interventions at the unprecedented scale that is currently being considered. For example, many school districts are expanding summer school programs, but school districts are struggling to find summer school teaching staff to meet the increased demand. Finally, given the widening educational gap between primary and secondary schools, it is uncertain whether these interventions to reduce the gaps can really combat the new challenges faced by educators. those. That is, students may be generally affected, but the epidemic may still have a negative impact on educational equity in the country.

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Given that current actions cannot be implemented consistently across districts (and sometimes within regions), timely feedback on the results of actions and any necessary adjustments is critical. in the success of the district. The Road to COVID Recovery project and the National Student Support Accelerator are two large evaluation studies that aim to generate this type of evidence while providing resources for districts to monitor and evaluate their own programs. Additionally, more resources have been produced with recommendations on how best to implement recovery.


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