At ECRA Group, we celebrate educational leaders and school districts across the nation and their response to a once-in-a-hundred year pandemic. The overnight innovations while under immense pressure and the willingness of all educators to adapt is remarkable. Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges, significant progress was made.
Educational leaders have observed, first-hand, the asymmetric impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on students within their community. The ECRA study on equity and student growth over the span of the pandemic had three objectives:
- Document the progress that students made
- Quantify the magnitude of unfinished learning for specific student groups
- Develop an analytic framework for school leaders to measure equity and growth recovery
The study examined 67,081 students in Illinois grades 2 through 8 over the 15-month pandemic period beginning in the Winter of 2020 and ending in the Spring of 2021. The study used academic growth as the primary outcome. Academic growth is an important student outcome to assess learning rates of individual students, and to evaluate the effectiveness of equity efforts.
Executive Summary of Findings
It is important to note that nationally the term learning loss has been used to refer to the impact of the pandemic on student growth. However, ECRA prefers the term unfinished learning as we believe it more accurately reflects the current evidence regarding learning rates during the pandemic. Students did grow academically during the pandemic. Some students did not finish their learning congruent with pre-pandemic expectations.
The study has three main findings:
- Students made significant progress over the course of the pandemic, but did not grow at rates consistent with pre-pandemic levels. Overall, the study observed roughly 4.3 months of unfinished learning in reading and 4.9 months of unfinished learning in mathematics.
- The effects of the pandemic on student growth were asymmetric in that unfinished learning was far greater for certain student groups. Students designated as Black, Hispanic, Low-Income, and English Language Learners were amongst the student groups that were most impacted by the pandemic.
- Some students grew at a rate equal to or better than pre-pandemic levels. Despite the challenges faced, some students thrived.
Bringing Decisions Into Focus
At ECRA, we focus on helping school districts embed evidence-based practices via predictive models that empower school leaders with the information needed to ensure resources are directed toward what truly matters for students.