Impact of Covid-19 on K-12 Education

Education Technology Insights | Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Accurate assessment of the depth and scope of incomplete learning will enable districts and states to effectively assist students in catching up on missing learning and going forward successfully after the pandemic.

Fremont, CA; As the most tumultuous school years come to a close, it's time to assess the pandemic's impact on student learning and well-being. Even though the 2020–21 academic year concluded on a bright note—with increased immunization rates, outdoor in-person graduations, and 98 percent of kids having access to at least some in-person learning—it was, on the whole, one of the most stressful for educators and students.

The pandemic had a substantial impact on K–12 student learning, with kids falling five months behind in math and four months behind in reading by the conclusion of the school year. The pandemic expanded already-existing achievement and opportunity gaps, disproportionately affecting historically poor kids. In math, kids in mainly Black schools had six months of incomplete work at the end of the year, while students in low-income schools had seven. High school dropout rates have increased, and high school seniors, particularly those from low-income families, are less likely to pursue higher education. The crisis influenced students' academics as well as their overall health and well-being, with more than 35 percent of parents being concerned about their children's mental health.

The pandemic's aftermath threatens to dampen this generation's prospects and limit their options far into adulthood. The repercussions may jeopardize their chances of attending college and, eventually, obtaining a satisfying profession that allows them to sustain a family. Because of the pandemic's influence on their schooling, today's students may earn substantially less during their lives unless actions are taken to rectify incomplete learning. As this generation enters the workforce, the economic impact on the United States might range from $128 billion to $188 billion each year.

Federal money is available to assist states and districts in responding, but financing is only one component of the solution. Many reform efforts have failed to address the deep-seated problems in educational systems that precede the pandemic. States and districts must play a significant role in channeling that money into long-term programs that improve student outcomes. They may guarantee that evidence-based programs are rigorously implemented while also piloting and tracking the effects of innovative new approaches. Although it is too soon to judge the efficacy of post-pandemic solutions to unfinished learning, the breadth of action is already apparent. Not only must schools be reopened and incomplete learning be recovered, but education institutions must also be reimagined for the long run. It will be vital to adopt a holistic approach to all of these issues, listening to students and parents and implementing programs that fulfill both academic and non-academic needs.

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