KC program looks to reverse trends of virtual learning’s effects on young students
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Learning took a hit during the pandemic and the first nationwide test of students is showing just how much.
The Nation’s Report Card and a local organization have put forward a renewed effort to help students recover.
Studies show that if students are not reading proficiently after third grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
Lead to Read is helping curb that trend.
Every week for 30 minutes, students in first, second and third grade are booked, each one -- paired up with an outside mentor from Lead to Read. The organization’s Pauly Hart said “a lot of learning can happen one-to-one in 30 minutes.”
Their volunteers are in schools all across the Kansas City metro. Like most things, COVID disrupted Lead to Read’s sessions: they went virtual, along with the rest of the school day.
Emily Twyman-Brown from Brookside Charter School said learning suffered in the traditional sense. And the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card, reflects just that.
Measuring math and reading skills for fourth and eighth graders, it’s the first report card since 2019.
The results show a slight dip in reading but math scores fared the worst.
With 49 out of 50 states’ scores declining, just one in four students is proficient in math. That’s down from about one in three in 2019.
Reading scores declined in more than half of all states, with one in three students being proficient in reading.
Missouri and Kansas saw math and reading scores plummet from 2019. The results show that in three years, schools wiped away 20 years of progress and stability.
Nationwide, math scores had the steepest declines ever. Twenty-five percent of fourth graders tested at the lowest level in math this year.
In 2019 it was 19 percent.
Thirty-eight percent of eighth graders tested below the basic level, an increase from 31 percent before the pandemic.
Researchers from Stanford and Harvard studied the exam results and found remote learning was a factor. But more so was poverty.
Kids who were struggling before the pandemic fell further than those at the top.
Access to technology and other factors, reflecting inequities in society all played a part.
The impact of kids falling behind, especially in reading, can be catastrophic. After third grade, students are expected to read to learn.
“If they can’t read the instructions on the board, the math problem, the science passage they get frustrated they lose confidence and they start this downward spiral,” added Hart.
This is where that alarming statistic comes in: if students are not reading proficiently after third grade, they’re more than four times more likely to drop out of high school.
“The pandemic gave us the opportunity to move in a new direction that we always wanted to and hadn’t had the opportunity to,” Brookside Charter School’s Emily Twyman-Brown said.
Schools that partner with Lead to Read also get access to Hoot Learning, an online tutoring program for kids who need the extra help.
Now you have an army of people who are helping you through the computer, which school officials say is a good thing.
It’s not just on educators. The commissioner of the Nations Report card said that teachers need to teach math, but reading is something parents and communities need to step up on.
Incorporate reading into your everyday routine with students. Simple things like pointing out signs in the supermarket or symbols.
And, reading with them at home for just 15 minutes every day — trying to write a new chapter for the future and help students recover.
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