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Pandemic learning loss | What it'll take to get Georgia students back on track

Some Georgia students lost a year of education time in math and reading according to a new report.

ATLANTA — A new report estimates that the pandemic put some Georgia students as much as a year behind in math and reading.

The Education Recovery Scorecard uses 3rd through 8th grade math and reading scores, comparing 2019 results to scores in 2022. Declines in test scores are viewed as a loss of learning time.

Dr. Thomas Kane of Harvard University’s Graduate said the damage done by the pandemic has been like a tornado bearing down on Georgia classrooms.

“When a tornado comes through, sometimes it really hits some communities and leaves neighboring communities unaffected,” Dr. Kane said.

In some areas of the state, remote learning and the stress that came with it pushed students into a backward slide. In some districts, math and reading scores grew despite disruptions caused by the pandemic.

According to the report, Georgia’s average math scores are calculated as a loss of nearly half a school year. Reading scores are viewed as nearly a quarter of a school year lost.

Earlier this month, a report from the National Center for Educational Statistics revealed that Georgia scores held steady through the pandemic when it comes to 4th and 8th grade reading and math scores.

The biggest impact appears to be in Sumter County. The report calculates students lost more than a year when it comes to math scores. Compare that to math scores in the city of Decatur, where students gained a quarter of a year despite the pandemic.

Dr. Kane added that students who have to play catchup may need to sacrifice time off.

“I actually think that in a lot of places it will be very hard to manage this catch up without extending the school year,” Kane explained. “Using school vacation weeks, maybe even some Saturday instruction, maybe longer school days.”

School districts around metro Atlanta have started a variety of recovery plans.

Atlanta will run the Summer Academic Recover Academy through next year.

Meanwhile, Cobb students took home free books following the Summer Learning Quest and a mental health counseling program is now in place for Fulton County students.

However, Dr. Kane added that it’s unlikely a full recovery will come this year. He says in some districts it might not happen next year.

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