New Tool Calculates COVID Learning Loss in MD School Districts, 8K Nationwide

A new tool from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University calculates COVID learning loss and the cost of catching kids up in 8,000 school districts across the country.

It is widely accepted that school kids across the United States suffered great learning loss throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as schools were closed for in-person learning. The switch to virtual and hybrid learning left many kids struggling, whether due to a lack of resources and internet access, a loss in hands-on learning, or familial and community preoccupations during the pandemic.

Maryland’s students were not immune to the challenges of pandemic learning. In fact:

  • 35% of students met or exceeded expectations in ELA, down from 43.7% in 2018-19;
  • 15% of students met or exceeded expectations in math, less than  half of the 2018-19 score of 33.0%;
  • 39% of students met or exceeded expectations in science; and
  • 40% of kindergarteners demonstrated readiness, down from 40% in 2018-19.

The Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University recently developed a virtual tool to calculate COVID learning loss and the cost of catching kids up in 8,000 school districts across the country. The Edunomics Lab notes that :

These figures represent predicted averages for each district’s mix of students, with higher losses in some schools and for some students, and lower in others based on learning time lost through the fall of 2021. They are estimates, and we encourage district leaders to quantify the actual student learning trends in their district, set against how much it would cost to address any student learning gaps.

Education news outlet The74 thoroughly explains the tool and its functions:

So just how much help will students need? We used the results from the NBER paper to build a new calculator tool that estimates the learning losses in more than 8,000 school districts across the country. We plugged in student demographic information and data on the mode of instruction from the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to LearnTracker. District leaders can use “The Calculator” to estimate the level of student learning loss in their schools.

Our calculator also compares the estimated learning losses with how much money a district would need to spend to remedy them. We used available research on the effect sizes of tutoring (a high-impact investment) to estimate those costs.

Notably, the Edumonics Lab concluded that, “in general, the highest-poverty districts suffered the largest learning losses, but they also received the most money from the federal government.”

Detroit students, for example, lost an estimated 17 weeks of learning, but the district received more than $800 million in the last round of federal funds.

Wealthier communities received less in federal support, so they may have to dip into their own funds to address the academic losses in their schools, especially if their schools were closed longer. For example, Fairfax, Virginia, is one of the wealthiest counties in the country. But the district kept its schools closed for half a year, and its students suffered losses equivalent to 16 weeks of learning in math and 11 weeks in reading. To make up for that, we estimate the district will need to invest approximately $343 million, substantially more than it received in federal relief funds.

How do Maryland students fair?

Data for all 24 Maryland jurisdictions is available in the calculator. Below are the calculations for all 24 jurisdictions. Again, these figures represent predicted averages for each district’s mix of students.

Allegany County

Anne Arundel County

Baltimore City

Baltimore County

Calvert County

Caroline County

Carroll County

Cecil County

Dorchester County

Frederick County

Garrett County

Harford County

Howard County

Kent County

Montgomery County

Prince George’s County

Queen Anne’s County

Somerset County

St. Mary’s County

Talbot County

Washington County

Wicomico County

Worcester County

Read the full article from The74.

Access the calculator tool.