Federal investments in education provide a unique opportunity to transform student trajectories

Loss of learning? Learning interrupted? Call it what you want. The important question is, “What do we do next to support the students?” ”

A report on Student Progress conducted by Curriculum Associates provides a disheartening glimpse into student learning in the fall, when many students were just entering school buildings. Researchers looked at the diagnostic scores of more than nine million students across the country and found that the number of students performing two or more grade levels below their actual grade level was higher than before the pandemic . Concretely, we have more second year students in kindergarten or even in pre-K than two years ago.

The challenges were more pronounced for students in schools serving predominantly black and Latino students, as well as for students in schools in low-income postal codes.

Even before the pandemic, there were signs that too many students were struggling. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2020 Long-Term Trend Assessment (LTT) – conducted before the pandemic – indicated a widening of achievement levels between our lowest and highest performing students. .

Cindy Marten, Assistant Secretary of Education, Noted recently at a congressional hearing, “the pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated the challenges that exist in our education system.”

Looking ahead, it will be important to stay focused on the task of providing academic support to our students, rather than getting bogged down in distracting debates.

Historic amounts of federal relief funds are poised to help the recovery. To change the current performance trajectory, we need to ensure that this money is used wisely and targeted to support our most vulnerable students.

here is a few priorities to achieve this systemic change:

· A new commitment to using data to help parents, educators and policy makers track student recovery and align resources to best meet students’ educational needs. It is not enough to give tests, we must help educators, schools and policy makers at all levels to act on the data.

· Pay attention to the widespread adoption, training and use of high quality educational materials, including those that use the science of reading to improve reading instruction. And we need to specifically put more emphasis on mathematics success for all students of color and all students in poverty, to include teaching algebra at the right time and in a way that gives these students the best chance of success.

Respond to the needs of our most vulnerable students by all decision we make affecting schools, including specific efforts to accelerate learning, as well as efforts to meet their social and emotional needs.

I am delighted to join the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University with the goal of identifying and promoting solid examples of how states are. make the most of recovery funds.

It will take commitment and discipline to stay focused on what matters to supporting students. But we owe it to all students to make sure they get the education they deserve.

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