Pandemic Exacerbated Inequality in Schools, Recovery Progress Slow
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted longstanding educational inequities, and as schools attempt to recover, data from the School Pulse Panel, a national survey of principals, indicates that progress has been sluggish for all. Allison Socol, Vice President of P-12 Policy, Research, and Practice at the Education Trust, a nonprofit promoting equity in education, emphasizes that the pandemic revealed and worsened racial inequities present for a long time.
Data from the Institute of Education Sciences reveals that 36% of students in the US were behind their grade level before the pandemic. This figure rose to 50% at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year when remote instruction was still prevalent and dropped only slightly to 49% at the start of the 2022-23 school year when most schools resumed in-person classes.
The data also reveals that schools with a higher proportion of minority students and students experiencing poverty were already struggling before the pandemic, with many students falling behind grade level. These schools have experienced a significant increase in students falling behind during the pandemic. Despite the challenges, schools with higher rates of minority students and students experiencing poverty are more likely to use tailored accelerated instruction, family outreach, and professional development to assist with learning recovery.
Socol emphasizes that the goal should not be to return to pre-pandemic rates but to do better than before. She notes that the education field has resources and strategies for helping students improve, such as a strong and diverse workforce, rigorous curriculum, and intensive tutoring tailored to each student’s needs.
Tamez-Robledo, N. (2023, April 20). COVID-19 Hit Schools Unequally, But Data Shows Learning Recovery Is Equally Slow. EdSurge.