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Covid's Affect on Student Learning Success Rates

We see you. You've been an educator for over a decade, and with each class, you've always found the best ways to help your students realize their potential. Last week, as you looked over your students' test scores, you realized that many were slumping. To your surprise, even your best-performing students were falling behind while others failed to meet the pass marks. 

Is the Covid-19 pandemic the culprit? You wonder. To get some answers, you open your browser and type, "Covid's effects on student learning success rates." As search results pop up on your screen, you realize that the pandemic is transforming learning as you know it.

Learning Gains are Dropping

Learning gains indicate improvements made by students between the start and end of courses. Recent projections show that with remote learning during Covid, students experience smaller learning gains than typical school years. In comparisons between 2019 and 2020, Mathematics was most affected as students from grades 3-8 experienced less than 50% gains. This means that in math, students might be left behind if instructors don't change their approaches.

Some solutions to the situation include coordination between teachers from various education levels. Schools need to design new ways of assessing students earlier to know precisely where they are academically. This might be the best way to guarantee that no student falls behind during virtual learning.

Gaps Between Learners are Getting Wider

Students are unique, and with Covid, they have been affected in diverse ways that impact their learning. With students learning from home, disparities in digital access and other inequalities were laid bare. A significant challenge has been that the gap between students from various backgrounds increased, with the most vulnerable requiring access to support and extra services to keep up.

To guarantee that learning is equitable and all-inclusive, some countries have been responding in some creative ways. In New Zealand, Portugal, and France, learners access online learning spaces, special TV programs, and hard-copy learning packs. In Columbia, educators have also extended free internet resources to the most vulnerable. For teachers, creating space for individualized learning can also reduce variability in learning levels.

Anxiety and Stress is Affecting Learners

Mental health is integral to successful learning, but when students suffer from anxiety and stress, they have difficulties retaining information. During Covid, students have been more concerned about their health, loved ones, and about their academic performance. These stressors gradually lead to problems with sleeping patterns and harmful coping mechanisms that affect learning.

To help students cope with stress and anxiety, teachers can adapt teaching approaches to help students center on current activities and experiences. Encouraging kids to use mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, yoga exercises, and even outdoor games can help them to connect in healthier ways. For teachers, this means that there's an arising need to recognize that the transition to online learning has been difficult for students. Other activities with great potential include sharing talents, stories, pictures, art, and incorporating music into lessons.

Connections Between Educators and Students Have Weakened

Before Covid, students and educators both valued the roles that collaboration and hands-on learning played in boosting learning success. But, with social distancing and virtual learning, the communities of class environments are harder to maintain and, in most cases, impossible to create. Online, teachers have been sharing how students connect on Zoom to confirm attendance, but they are not serious about classes as they would be in the traditional school setting. While students can be lazy, it's possible that how we teach makes it impossible for children to connect to courses and content.

There's a need to introduce purpose into connections between teachers and students to ensure that learning is more conducive. It's a long-accepted reality that great relationships between teachers and students make the learning environment productive and fun. Classrooms with positive relationships generate better experiences for the child and lead to higher academic achievements. This shows that teachers need to find new ways of connecting with students to ensure that these relationships thrive. Is it through class activities or individualized connections? Finding the correct strategy for your students can improve their performance.

Parent and Guardian Involvement

In countries like Ireland, parental engagement helped to reduce the disadvantages of learning at home. The Irish Ministry of Education provides parents with online resources they can use to guide learning at home. In Spain, NGOs actively engage parents through guidelines and videos that educate them on how to assist children when they face emotional challenges. These efforts demonstrate just how valuable the parent/guardian dimension in improving learning increases success rates.

Creating ways to get and keep parents and guardians involved in their student's education is vital to long term success. Virtual learning is different from former teaching practices, and the parents and guardians may be intimidated by this new challenge. Keeping them involved and providing new ways to engage will aid in their willingness to support their students and students teachers. 

Take Charge and Make a Change

As you lean back in your chair after reading what researchers are saying, you realize that the effects of Covid on student learning are significant. Teachers that worry about their students know that they can inspire positive change if they act fast and make the right choices. At the back of your mind, you know that while teachers and students are the most affected by Covid, parents and guardians can also be key to improve learning.

Like you, today's teachers need to accept that redesigning approaches to teaching is one way of ensuring that learning doesn't become a stressor but something that students enjoy. In a world filled with uncertainties, education is necessary, and it might just be the positive spark we all need right now.

Written by Simon Riitho

Education World Contributor

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