How will education recover from The Covid learning slide?
Part 1: Responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have changed the landscape of education.
Amidst the current covid-19 pandemic, it has been challenging for teachers and students everywhere to meet the usual academic expectations and academic disparities are increasing due to roadblocks created by The Covid-19 Pandemic. . Students are falling behind in two ways, overall academically, each grade level is progressing slower than previous years, and the opportunity gap some were already facing is widening. Side-effect of covid will surpass the “homework gap” caused by the digital divide or well-known “summer learning loss”.
Many have reverted to Hybrid or Remote learning which is difficult for students, families and educators. Transitioning a Teaching style and curriculum from in-person to virtual requires time and a set of tech skills teachers had to acquire almost overnight. According to a study 24% of teachers find math is the hardest subject to teach in the current teaching environment, 16% selected science, and another 16% selected everything. For those who aren’t teaching remotely, teaching in person is also made more challenging, by the juggling of health fears, student absences, sanitation protocols, safe distance rules, and personal circumstances.
School districts have responded to some extent, but the education system at its core does not change with the same flexibility that has been expected from teachers.
For this reason, many have turned towards external tech management platforms for education support and startups like Klassroom have been able to provide tools to ensure Learning never stops. One of the issues that has been brought to light is the lack of communication between families and educators, as learning no longer simply takes place in a school between students and teachers, working together has become crucial to support children's education as much of it has transitioned home. The Klassly (Kids+Class+Family) App is made for teachers and families to connect and work together, so they can support the education of their children in a time where they need to collaborate more than ever. The Klassboard is the app for school leaders to gather and access every class to broadcast information, contact parents privately and directly or gather data. The most efficient option right now is a centralized communication system, so even when we face uncertainties, School administrators, teachers, parents, and students can keep track in real time of what is happening.
Other roadblocks to a successful education include but are not limited to health, socio-economic reasons, physical or virtual access, and communication. Teachers can’t teach when their health is at risk, students can’t learn when they or their guardians are ill. Not all schools were able to keep all their educators on staff, the already present digital divide became even more problematic, and the way the american educational system places almost all accountability for student success on teachers via its policies is now visibly flawed.
Finding solutions to recover from the covid education cliff will impact much more than students current academic level, it will impact the future lives of this generation of learners.
The impact on education is expected to have long term adverse consequences throughout society, including on the economy. McKinsey estimates “the average K-12 student in the U.S. could lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings — as a result of learning losses related to COVID-19. Losses are expected to be even greater for Black, Hispanic and low-income students, widening the existing achievement gaps by 15%-20%”
Overall this amounts to about $110 billion loss in future annual earnings for our current K-12 students. The World Bank estimates almost 7 million students might drop out of school altogether across the globe due to economic impacts of the pandemic.
RAND’s Jennifer McCombs told Harvard EdCast in March that based on the summer slide research, students from lower income families are even more likely to fall behind. After the shutdown in Spring of 2020, A June NWEA study of "COVID slide" suggests students went back to school with about 70% in reading and 50% in math learning gains compared to other school years, and in some cases even almost an entire year level behind what is normally expected.
School districts with higher percentages of students living in poverty were the most likely to start school remotely. Education leaders actively tried to increase access to those in need, yet a July survey still showed 14 percent of households earning less than $25,000 a year don’t have reliable internet access.In addition, studies validate the effects of chronic stress on the brain for students living in poverty.
It’s safe to say students “learn best when they have trusting relationships with educators, safe environments, a sense of control, and teachers who have the time and space to attend to key emotional skills and needs”(B. Gross, A. Opalka). Investing in a solution to offer some semblance of a clear and organized environment virtually should be a priority.
Teachers will agree these things are hard to establish by video conference and without help from the students' families if they are at home. When servers crash, all sense of stability and control is lost, if students can’t reach the site where homework is posted, teachers fear many students are likely to log off or disengage. With the distance, only a present authority figure, parent or other, can help guide students to stay focused, creating a safe environment where one can focus from home.
Teachers using Klassly found communicating with families easier and giving them access to all homework and links via their phones helped them keep a sense of control in their children's education. Indeed continuing education at home with the presence of a grown-up to support lesson plans has been a great way to hold students accountable for their efforts outside of the classroom.
Many pre-existing inequalities and educational inefficiencies were amplified by the sanitary crisis. inequitable funding and access to quality teachers and effective instruction is more obvious now than ever. Economist Kirabo Jackson suggests the significant gradual spending cuts seen post depression in 2011-2013 in K–12 expenditures directly affected later-on academic achievement. At the time Districts laid off newer teachers, froze salaries, raised class sizes, and stopped investing in new curricular materials. “Not a formula for improved achievement.”(M. Petrilli)
Students who were already previously lacking parental engagement in their academic growth are suffering even more, as those who are able to are turning towards tutoring and learning pods opportunities and the level gap continues to widen.
Klassroom teachers are able to communicate to parents of their students who do not speak the same language allowing parents who want to be involved access to school materials without language barriers for free. On the Klassly App messages and homework can be translated with the click of a button.
School leaders have been put to the test and criticized for not communicating effectively with Educators and families. They too are juggling many new regulations in addition to the usual demands of managing a school and have high reports of anxiety. Those who have a Klassboard could message all their classes, teachers and families for real-time updates on school related information.
Something that has come up in the battle against academic disparity is academic responsibility. Teachers speak of a lack of support from their students' families and school admin, with little guidance from school districts, and a general lack of communication.
Moskowitz, the CEo at Success academy shares her views on how accountability and coaching are facilitated by remote learning, school admin can join any virtual remote teaching: “observing instruction, intervening and live coaching, and engaging students as needed.” Acknowledging at the same time the “unprecedented” level of partnership expected from Parents, who were urged to follow up at home, overseeing homework, reviewing emails daily, schedules, getting in contact with teachers and so forth. The way curriculums were organized made it easier to transition to online. Unfortunately not every charter school system, public school district or private schools were able to transition as smoothly. Those who were able to turn to Klassroom were able to lean on strong partnerships with families, even if they only had access to smartphones.
Previously established systems take some responsibility in making this transition even more challenging. Public education policies are rules the government decides regarding education, schools, teachers, and all things related. “American culture contains three strongly held values that significantly influence public policy in general and education policy specifically. Equality, efficiency, and liberty.”(J. W. GUTHRIE)
Government actions and rulings are usually motivated by at least one of these values, however policies tend to promote one at the detriment of the others. For example, the “No child left behind” policy promotes equality, encouraging all students to have equal access to success, and yet it is incredibly inefficient for educators who find some students could benefit from failing, in order to spend more time focusing on a level if they need to. There is still much controversy about whether failing can have positive effects or not and standardized testing. Yet Education remains one of the main areas through which American society tries promoting all three values simultaneously.
In order to avoid a complete collapse of our previous educational system in the U.S., states are not holding schools accountable for the enrollment losses they are experiencing during this year. Indeed, 82% of parents whose children are being enrolled in alternative learning environments say they would like things to go back the way they were before the pandemic, as a record high of tutoring and learning pod options are made available by graduate students, home-schoolers and teachers in transition. There is no way of knowing how long the private investments supporting these learning environments will last, however it is clear that parents are now a much more involved part of the equation when it comes to making decisions about how and when children's education takes place, the previous relationship between school districts & Teacher unions making decisions will need to take Parents into consideration a lot more in order to ensure schools retain their communities and financial support after the pandemic passes, making it impossible to return exactly to what was once called “normal”. “Districts will be struggling with declining enrollment and revenue losses due to the recession. If large numbers of advantaged families who have fled to schooling options outside of public education don’t return, districts won’t have the money to return to normal.”(P.T. Hill, A. Jochim) Some alternative teaching examples include the Los Angeles Unified School District that partnered with an external volunteer program for tutoring students. Instructional aides and substitute teachers are tasked with creating small-group instruction for struggling students.
In Nevada’s Clark County School District, teams of educators are doing wellness check-ins with each student and family in order to assess academic, social-emotional and health needs.
In Baltimore City, the district joined “the University of Maryland to match university students with middle schoolers struggling with remote attendance for mentorship and academic support.”(B. Gross, A. Opalka)
Schools are expected to face disruptions until at least 2024. Considering the american public's distrust of vaccines, and worries about most at risk children and teachers, we can expect some of the temporary solutions being used to last a little longer. The covid education cliff can only widen in that time, and those who adapt the soonest will fare better in the long run. Teachers who use a communication platform that parents actually find user-friendly and actively check will be more likely to create bonds with their students home and not lose track of their learning too much between school/videoconference hybrid settings and home.
Families don’t get to choose the communication platform their child's teacher will use, but teachers need parents/guardians/families to like it and actively use it or else it loses its whole purpose. Teachers need to make sure they use a platform that parents enjoy, and Klassly is a perfect example with a measured increase in parental engagement of up to 92%.
Investing in effective education is investing in the future. Using an App like Klassly is in a sense offering an olive branch between teachers and parents because it’s as easy and comprehensive to use for both parties. Klassly wasn’t made just for teachers or just for parents, both were considered equally in this exchange, it is a partnership. A Virtual partnership between people who may or may not be tech savvy, with this in mind, Klassly is as accessible as an app can be.
In the opening of one of his famous mid-nineteenth-century annual reports as secretary for the Massachusetts Board of Education, Horace Mann said "Education prevents being poor." Here was one of the first highly visible expressions of the new nineteenth-century relationship between education and economic well-being” Yet, Education is the first to receive budget cuts, from which we are now suffering during a pandemic. Even with existing research showing the direct correlation between investing in education and the economic return it yields when benefiting students are active participants of society as previously mentioned. Things are known to change very slowly in the American school system, “Public K–12 education–which operates across fifty states, 14,000 local school districts, and 100,000 schools; involves 5 million employees and more than 48 million students; and costs more than $2 billion each day–is too large, too costly, and too enmeshed in political dynamics to change quickly”(J. W. GUTHRIE), but many hope the Pandemic will have some positive effects by motivating necessary change.
Moskowitz encourages centralized curriculum planning like what they are doing at success academies. Teachers are increasingly gaining in tech skills, learning how to use new technologies, making the internet accessible to all is diminishing the “digital divide”. Hopefully this will be done in time to engage students before they have completely lost interest in school. “First, the new world order necessitates that everyone be educated. Hence, issues of access and equality remain important. Second, it is no longer sufficient that individuals simply be exposed to schooling, it is increasingly important that they actually learn. Hence, the additional policy pressure is to render education institutions effective, both in achieving their objectives and in the use of the vast resources they command. The upshot is that both equality and efficiency are paramount issues on the education policy agenda”(J. W. GUTHRIE)
One focus that has emerged from all of this, is the inattention generally carried out so far for teachers' mental health and wellbeing. As leaders of young children Teachers have been known to carry on with a brave attitude in the face of adversity, but things have simply gone out of hand and expectations are overwhelming causing an uproar on social media of the daily struggle it is to currently be a teacher in America. The positive take from this, is that if it is something we can talk about openly, then it is something we can work on. For until now, many teachers have worked non-contracted hours, dealt with mistreatments and exhaustion while leaving the general public completely unaware of the emotional and mental hardships that come with the profession. When we consider refugee teacher training programs developed in the university of Maryland, we learn that teacher reported the “component on self care was the most helpful training session, because it showed them that taking care of
themselves and their own mental well being made it easier to manage their classrooms effectively (O’Neal et al.).” Teachers found that being able to manage their own stress enabled them to focus their energy better on creating a learning environment for their students.
The United States aren’t the only ones to be struggling with the Covid education Cliff.
All teachers benefit from healthy relationships with their students' families, gaining the trust of those who continue educating children at home and carefully providing them with the tools to follow up with what is being taught will ensure the academic gap doesn’t widen out of control.
Klassroom is an app that was created with just that intent, while protecting both parents and teachers privacy so they can best “manage their own stress” and care for children to the best of their ability.
There have been increasingly difficult challenges for educators around the world with record high numbers of displaced communities in recent years. Teaching during a pandemic is in fact teaching in a time of crisis. A currently sanitary, and social crisis leading to an economic one. Education professionals around the globe have faced incredibly difficult crises and had to come up with solutions before, having to change everything about the way they knew how to effectively share knowledge with different or no means to do so. Some of these experiences are documented and can serve as very helpful advice for educators today, for example, in UNESCOs 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report. Emerging recommendations from this study include the focus on teachers' mental health and well-being and the need for flexibility in forms of teaching, and the absolute need to not over-burden our teachers.
“In displacement settings, teacher well being should be an indicator of all teacher management and development practices. Teachers with fair compensation, decent working conditions, relevant training, and classroom support, including tools to manage their own stress, are more likely to stay in the profession and work effectively. Key tasks and support services need to be delegated to other school staff (when feasible) in order to avoid over burdening teachers with excessive demands on their time and abilities.”(Unesco.org)
PART 2: Positively changing
Lake ,the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell says "We have to limit the learning loss curve as quickly as possible because, otherwise, educators will be overwhelmed both by the enormity of the need plus all the other stuff they're dealing with, like health and public safety and budget crunches…. Parents — juggling work and caring for families while making sure their children are set up to learn — already feel the pressure." .
In order to respond to the covid education cliff and limit the learning loss curve, it is important to acknowledge that teachers cannot do everything. Indeed the common saying “it takes a village” is quite applicable. Teachers need the support of ed-tech companies (like Klassroom) and Families ! As soon as the first wave of school shutdowns took place, Klassroom worked tirelessly on developing features specifically adapted to the situation, including video conferencing on the Klassly app so that teachers could keep their needed tools centralized and accessible for their students.
Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union has acknowledged that "we have this continual conversation about how this is going to devastate our children,…That puts everyone in the mindset that our children are broken. It is our job as the adult to push on and persevere to figure this out for them.”.
Indeed,supporting children's learning today requires much more communication and teamwork between parents and educators than pre-covid. This can be such a positive turn for how education is carried out for future generations, Schaeffler explains " [the pandemic] has forced parents and schools to lean on each other in a way that I hope continues when we are back face-to-face,".
Communicating with parents can be overwhelming, some parents eager to help can be invasive in the way they contact teachers, emails, text messages, calls, without consideration of day or time. In Teacher groups on social media, you can find examples… Klassroom teacher Miri Baca puts in her own words how an App like Klassroom was beneficial for her mental health during the spring when her school went remote: “Parent communication was overwhelming for me, if I didn't have the Klassroom app I think that i would go nuts,... You have to encourage students through their parents, and you have to check on them almost every single day.”
The answer to the question may seem cliche, but it is in fact, Together, that we will be able to overcome the education cliff caused by covid, and hopefully the landscape of education will be defined by the relationship between kids, their class leaders and their families.
Since the beginning of it’s creation Klassly has been reinventing the way education is carried out by making it a shared investment, from both teachers and families. By creating meaningful partnerships, simplifying access to communication and schoolwork from phones, tablets or computers, it has shown the strongest involvement rate amongst it’s similar and competitive platforms. All the teachers of a class can access the students and their families on the same platform and it’s simply and clearly organized for families that have multiple children or that are separated and want to be involved. The communication between families and teachers is accessible and private. Children are the most precious resource of this world and should be protected and guided carefully, with their best interest in mind, everyone can take on new responsibilities in educating together! Parents and teachers have always been on the same team in a way, but the memories of school for many parents and the accessibility to all decisions associated with academic education created a barrier. By seeing what is being taught, following instructions and receiving advice and links to useful tools from teachers, parents can actually support their children, confidently follow up on topics they may never have been comfortable with. Parents aren’t professionally trained to care for children, and each parent has their own way of raising their child which is not questionable by others. Parenting is a sacred and special responsibility that every culture and family responds to in their unique way.
Teachers choose to work with children and learn techniques to help them move forward and adapt to their unique ways. Teachers and parents deserve to trust each other that each is working with childrens best intention in mind, and there isn’t a proof much more reassuring than a picture of your child smiling at school to ease a nervous parent who doesn’t feel as smart as a fifth grader.
Education Policy reforms, curriculum adaptations, standardized testing transformations are all important, however none of it will have as much of an impact as parents and teachers working together to ensure learning never stops.
The choice is yours, adopt the ALL-IN-ONE solution and experience the benefits of a a stronger partnership with better involved families to guide and support children as we recover together from the covid-19 learning slide, this app works for the entire school/district, and see for yourself how the Klassly App brings people together better than any other communication platform for schools, because at its core, it was created to involve families, and that is what we need today.
At Klassroom, the fight against ed-inequity all around the world has been going on for years, offering parents a new understanding of what school is today, changing the relationship between families and school so their children can have a new experience and see their family and educators working as a team for their benefit.
As impossible as it may seem sometimes, Families and Educators are on the same team and it’s time to get on the same page, your klassly page.