High-Dose Tutoring Can Combat Learning Loss: Key Takeaways from “Those Grade-School Test Scores Are a Really Bad Sign”
Tutoring may be more important than ever as a recent study has confirmed what many educators suspected to be true: American student test scores have decreased over the past two pandemic-defined years. In “Those Grade-School Test Scores Are a Really Bad Sign” for Slate.com, Shirin Ali references math and reading scores reported by The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). These scores revealed notable declines in math and reading skills among fourth and eighth graders across America. In fact, every single state showed “straight declines or no significant changes.” A bad “report card,” indeed.
Given that test scores may have a connection with high school completion, college success, and adult livelihood, the stakes are high as experts discuss how to recover from pandemic-era learning loss. While former NPR education reporter and author Anya Kamenetz is not surprised that student test scores have decreased over the past two years, she sees this decline as an alarming cause for concern. In an interview with Ali, Kamenetz offers her thoughts on the meaning of these scores, possible remedies, and key takeaways.
1. It is not about the score; it is about the implications
Emphasizing the far-reaching significance of declining test scores, Kamenetz points out that there is little historical precedent to support a shift in education from the current reality to the benchmarks educators want students to achieve. Meanwhile, more students are foregoing college, further building on a 20 percent drop in community college admissions since the beginning of the pandemic. While the federal government has pumped money into education, schools are not necessarily using the money “in research-affirmed ways.” While Kamenetz agrees that increased funding is needed, she also stresses that, ultimately, learning recovery takes time.
2. High-dose tutoring is one of the solutions.
High-dose tutoring is one of the research-backed solutions that combats learning loss. High-dose tutoring means tutoring a few times a week with specially trained teachers, either in one-to-one or small group settings. Kamenetz suggests that many students can benefit from tutoring to address learning gaps, noting that pandemic-related learning loss is somewhat different from other kinds of academic difficulties.
Despite the potential of tutoring as an effective remedy for learning loss, parent buy-in presents obstacles. A survey by Brookings Institution found that less than 50% of parents reported that their child’s school was offering tutoring and/or summer school. Moreover, just over 25% of parents indicated interest in tutoring.
Describing a mutual “communication problem” between schools and parents, Kamenetz notes that schools are not effectively communicating the urgency of the need for extra learning time. Parents are not understanding that their children are behind because priorities have changed. Instead of familiarizing themselves with grade-level benchmarks, parents are focused on social-emotional aspects of school in the wake of the pandemic. In addition to this necessary emphasis on wellbeing, academic gaps need to be addressed in order to ensure student success.
3. Taking action now can pave the path for success!
As the new reality of low test scores and learning loss continues to set in, what can parents do? Kamenetz suggests starting a conversation with your student's teacher to pinpoint where extra help is needed. High-dose tutoring sessions, after-school programs, summer school, and extended school–day and school–year initiatives are all possible solutions.
At iLearn Academy, we believe in a personalized approach to tutoring that helps students achieve academic success. With ten years of experience providing quality tutoring and measurable results, we are ready to help students fill in academic gaps and recover from learning loss.
© iLearn Academy 2019