Research shows that across the nation, students could lose anywhere from six- to twelve months of learning due to the COVID-related changes in learning environments, yet experts are still unclear in how critical these gaps will be for all student populations. This is especially concerning in regard to reading proficiency, which requires kids to stay motivated and find reading materials that they enjoy.
Despite the challenges, thankfully, there are solid options for making up for learning loss and using the summer months to help students catch up.
“Learning loss is a real problem out there,” says Steven Guttentag, CEO of Reading Plus, an adaptive reading program with a mission to change the way students read through personalized instruction.
“Adaptive programs are critical to fill in the gap we are seeing. We can’t afford to have students covering material they’ve already mastered or working on material they’re not ready for and getting frustrated. That is where technology comes in,” adds Guttentag.
Technology, which is essential in remote or hybrid situations, is offering students ways to continue to get to, or remain at, grade level by giving educators tools for communication, real-time information on students’ progress, and functionality. This is also supported by federal funding, which offers schools the ability to use dollars in ways that support students as they work to catch up.
Strong programs for reading and student literacy in particular—known to bolster high levels of focus overall—are key as students continue to grow, even in uncertain environments. It is specifically fundamental to offer choice and flexibility so that kids can read material that matches their interests and increases their self-confidence and motivation.
Where school bells traditionally have set schedules to keep students on task, for months now they have had “anytime/anywhere” learning. That is why it is important to give teachers the ability to see their students in person (even via video) while they have had self-paced learning while remote.
“Our research shows that students can gain back between one- to two-and-a-half years with adaptive learning technology platforms if they have fallen below grade level,” says Reading Plus’s Guttentag. “We have also seen that giving them a choice in regard to reading content goes a long way. Some kids want to read about life situations they relate to, and others want to read about something unfamiliar. It is important to offer them both.”
Across the nation, educators are finding that education technology programs are strengthening their ability to provide personalized support to their students, resulting in more learning gains.