By Jay A. Diskey
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has set back learning for students. While estimates of the extent of learning loss vary, it is clear that most of the nation’s K-12 students have fallen behind.
According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, “the impact of the pandemic on K–12 learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year. The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest.”
Fortunately, policy leaders and educators have moved quickly to fund and establish learning recovery programs. Buoyed by nearly $200 billion in federal COVID-19 emergency education aid, all but six of the 50 states passed budgets for the fiscal year 2022 with funding increases for K-12 education.
Many of the increases will be used to support school health measures, daily instruction, and education technology. Federal and state funding will also be used to support learning recovery initiatives with an emphasis on helping special needs students and English language learners (ELLs). Under federal law, districts must use 20 percent of the federal K-12 education relief monies on instruction that addresses learning loss.
The programs take a variety of forms. For example, last year the California legislature created a learning loss mitigation fund that provides special funding to districts. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed into law a measure that provides $152.4 million to support before- and after-school programs, summer programming, and credit recovery.
Several states including Minnesota and Arizona have established special tutoring services, while Tennessee has created a new statewide reading intervention program.
Partnerships play a key role in many of the programs. For example, New Hampshire is planning to use federal relief dollars to partner with multiple community-based organizations and schools to provide ELLs and low-income students with digital literacy instruction and afterschool STEM enrichment activities. Many of the learning recovery programs are expected to operate for several years or more.
For news regarding federal and state education funding, stay connected to Vista Higher Learning. VHL will continue to bring you updates and news as part of our “Funding Matters” initiative.
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