In the last two years, we’ve heard quite a lot about “learning loss,” “learning gap” and “learning recovery” without really understanding what those terms mean or how they affect us. Since the disruption of COVID-19, researchers, policymakers, and education leaders have been attempting to assess how much learning Indian students have missed since March 2020.
Concerns have been brought up about the short-and long-term effects on students’ academic progress and behavioural changes. Though the Finance Minister announced a digital university and 200 TV channels under the e-Vidya scheme, there is little to no discussion of improving school infrastructure to mitigate the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government also neglected to allocate more funds to improve the quality of education in our country, as well as to re-enroll out-of-school children and provide them with financial and social support.
However, educators may find it difficult to answer questions like “What approaches can school leaders and teachers use to address potential learning disruptions and instructional gaps from the last two years?” “Can they solve the problems of pre-existing learning inequalities that were magnified by the pandemic?”
Regression in learning: Socio-Economic Status
According to a study by the Azim Premji Foundation conducted in August 2021, the lockdown has impacted the learning ability and skill levels of the students of this country.
When students miss school, they stop learning new things. Equally alarming is the widespread phenomenon of ”forgetting” what they had already learnt, the study stressed.
“This overall loss of learning – loss (regression or forgetting) of what children learned in previous classes and what they did not have the opportunity to learn in the current class – is going to lead to a cumulative loss over the years,” it concludes, adding that the new phenomenon has impacted not only children’s academic performance in school but also their adult lives. They called it “regression in learning”.
6 strategies to apply and deal with “Learning Loss”
Let’s talk about strategies for mitigating learning loss so students can get back some semblance of normalcy and make notable learning gains despite the pandemic.
So, how can schools and teachers address the issue of “learning loss” in a constructive way? What strategies can help students readjust to school life and combat learning loss stemming from the pandemic?
1. Measuring the “Gaps”
Adjusting instruction to accommodate children’s learning requirements and focusing on important foundational skills is required. As schools reopen, it is essential to monitor students’ learning levels.
Targeting instruction to a child’s learning level, such as grouping children by level all day or part of the day, has been found to be cost-effective in helping children catch up. Attaining foundational literacy and numeracy for all children must become an immediate national mission.
2. Teaching core skills using “Bridge” content
Bridging is a well-intended strategy of teaching old and new material that focuses on regular review of specific topics over the course of 6-week or so.
This assumes a strong foundation of structured education for all children who are now years behind their expected learning levels and require targeted interventions to catch up on what they learned in the previous class and how.
“Bridge” content, a remedial step, is a different way of dealing with lost learning and ensuring that all students have a strong foundation for future learning.
3. Emphasising content that are prerequisites to future learning
The first thing you should do as a teacher is to identify missed learning standards and all content that is a prerequisite to further learning. It’s possible that students didn’t fully comprehend the material. A student, for example, will not succeed in basic English unless he or she first masters grammar.
4. Creating a different schedule, reshaping curriculum
Let’s start by grouping children by learning and competency and altering assessments from common grade-level exams to measurements of proficiency and skills.
Try to craft a completely different schedule for the first few months of the school year with longer blocks for addressing missed learning standards and content that are prerequisites for future learning.
For courses like math, where prior-year knowledge is a core prerequisite for future learning, extra instructional time will be needed for all students to cover missing chapters or acquire missed ideas alongside the current-year curriculum.
5. Being flexible
Whether a teacher may be working to reach students in the classroom, in a remote setting, or perhaps a combination of the two, changes to the learning environment can impact each student’s learning path in different ways and the right educational technology can help educators in facilitating learning, no matter when or where it happens.
6. Adding more quality teachers
Not only do schools require more infrastructure, but they also need more quality teachers. The teacher shortage is real, and it has serious ramifications. India’s enduring ‘crisis of learning’ can only be resolved if schools seriously consider this.
Instability in the workplace has a negative impact on student achievement and reduces teacher effectiveness and quality. Getting more teachers on board is critical to accomplishing this. We need to invest in teachers’ professional development and use technology to enhance their skills and do their jobs better.
Feasibility Chart on bringing learning loss strategies in schools
The ‘Future of Learning’
We should not go back to what was. Our chance to shape the future of learning begins with reimagining education. Though the crisis may not be averted, it does provide an opportunity to transform education and help the next generation evolve with future-ready skills and creativity. We cannot let today’s crisis become a crisis for generations to come.
There is no single path toward the future of learning, so we must seize the opportunity and build a system that is:
Equitable : Where schools and homes have the conditions and support for learning
Effective : Where teachers and schools are equipped to support each and every student
Resilient : Where schools are safe and well-managed
The pandemic also provides an opportunity to start implementing a vision for the Future of Learning, in which all children learn with excitement and joy, and purpose in school and beyond. Indeed, this is a unique opportunity to reimagine education and part of the response entails ensuring every child continues to learn.