— Education

4 Big Myths About Pandemic Learning Loss, Debunked

The past year-plus was like no other in schools across the United States, and experts are just starting to get a handle on the academic toll the rollercoaster of COVID-19 disruptions took on kids. A recent New York Times report suggests, for example, that most children in this country are behind in reading and math — by about four to five months, on average — and within that, there are significant racial and economic disparities.

It’s unsettling news if you’re a parent who wants the best for your child and who has witnessed firsthand just how disruptive this time has already been — with another potentially strange academic year looming just around the corner. With that in mind, HuffPost Parents spoke with several experts about what learning loss is (and isn’t) and what parents can do to help their kiddos now.

Learning loss is easy to spot and easy to define.

Learning loss is a fairly broad term that can be measured using many different tools and standards. And it simply hasn’t been that long since the previous academic year wrapped up, so there isn’t a broad consensus on exactly how far “behind” America’s kids are at this point. Learning loss can be defined in many ways, but, in general, it addresses the decline in learning outcomes for children over specified periods,” said Alicia Levi, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit that works to promote children’s literacy.

In a school year, we’re supposed to see growth,” added Lisa Collum, a teacher, and owner of Top Score Writing. So when experts talk about “loss,” they’re generally talking about a lack of growth, she explained. And there are other types of loss, too, that are more difficult to define but can be just as meaningful, if not more so — like social, emotional, and developmental setbacks. There have been social, emotional, and behavioral regressions that took time away from learning,” said Dr. Malia Beckwith, section chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics with Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey.

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