MACo to State: Create a COVID-19 Slide Education Initiative

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice and Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jack Wilson, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair, last week sent a letter to Governor Hogan, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Senate President Bill Ferguson requesting the State create a COVID-19 Slide Education Initiative in order for local education agencies to address academic struggles due to the pandemic.

craig rice
MACo Education Subcommittee Chair Montgomery County Council Member Rice
Jack Wilson, Jr.
MACo Education Subcommittee Vice Chair Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Wilson

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and closures of in-person learning opportunities, many Maryland children have been struggling academically. The projections of the average academic growth trajectory by grade and for mathematics and reading have been significantly hindered. In a typical year, average academic growth varies across the academic year and generally declines from the last day of school through the summer, with steeper declines in mathematics than in reading.

While there may be some disagreement about the magnitude of summer learning loss, three trends are consistent across seasonal learning research findings: 1) achievement typically slows or declines over the summer months, 2) declines tend to be steeper for math than for reading, and 3) the extent of loss increases in the upper grades. Understanding that many children in the state have been without in-person learning for what will amount to a full calendar year, the need to intervene and provide additional supports to our students is paramount.

Leadership on MACo’s Education Subcommittee reached out to the Governor Larry Hogan, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Senate President Bill Ferguson to urge them to create the COVID Slide Education Initiative to help Local Education Agencies address the impacts of the COVID Slide.

From the letter:

Counties are acutely aware that the students suffering the most from a lack of in-person learning include our Special Education students and those who have English as a Second Language (ESL). In addition, students entering Kindergarten, 4th grade, 6th grade, and 9th grade, should also receive special attention based on the crucial learning benchmarks they should have mastered in the prior school year.

This CSEI would provide funds to LEAs that create specialized and focused summer programs to address the learning loss for youth that need the assistance within the previously mentioned cohorts. It is our hope that LEAs and local governments will be able to leverage the State investment to recruit private or non-profit entities to also invest in this endeavor.

The COVID-19 crisis is a call to action for practitioners and policy makers alike. Today’s students are increasingly diverse, and the pandemic has taken a toll on all students’ connections, communities, and relationships. Once schools are back in session, Maryland’s students must be prepared to thrive and be successful, but because of learning loss and unless we intervene, many of them will likely be behind academically. Addressing this critical need now benefits our students, families, and schools – a rising tide lifts all boats.

For more information, read the full COVID Slide letter from Council Member Craig Rice and Commissioner Jack Wilson.

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