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Literacy Programs Work to Mitigate Learning Loss from Pandemic Disruption


Thursday, May 5, 2022   

Literacy programs are making headway against the learning loss associated with pandemic school disruptions, which put many students four to five months behind in reading and math.

In California, 96% of students saw in-person classes canceled, modified or moved online over the prior school year. Close to 40% of the state's enrollment drop was in kindergarten.

Dino Pliego, director for program implementation in California for Save the Children, said the organization's programs serve 15,500 children at 26 rural schools in the Southland.

"Our elementary school-age education programs offered during and after school strive for reading and math proficiency by the end of third grade," Pliego explained. "Which is that critical time that children go from learning to read, to reading to learn."

The data also showed the school disruptions were harder on some students than others. Children from minority communities were set back an average of six months, and those who come from poverty were up to seven months behind.

Shane Garver, head of education, hunger, and resilience for Save the Children, said the good news is children in literacy programs have proved very resilient.

"On average, kids in these programs have gained an additional month in reading, above and beyond a full school year's worth of growth," Garver reported. "So while much of the country has fallen behind in their reading ability, kids in Save the Children's programs have actually moved ahead, working to close that achievement gap that is persistent across minority and high-poverty communities in the rural parts of the United States."

The classes will continue even while school is out, to counteract learning loss known as the "summer slide."

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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