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March 1, 2021

Research Alert / Less Learning Growth for BIPOC Kids Since School Closures

Key takeaways from the 2020 report "COVID 19 and Learning Loss: Disparities Grow and Students Need Help" from McKinsey & Company.
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A new report from McKinsey & Company aims to shed light on the average learning loss of K–5 students during remote learning last spring, highlighting significant equity issues. While the findings indicate the overall learning loss wasn't as severe as it could have been, disaggregating data by the race/ethnicity of students indicates elementary students of color, generally, showed less year-to-year (2019–2020) learning growth than white students. The report's calculations were based on scores of more than 300,000 K–5 students in 25 states who took the i-Ready Assessment (Curriculum Associates) in math or reading this fall.
On average, students had scores that indicated they were starting school in Sept. 2020 three months behind in math achievement (compared with what would be expected from i-Ready scores over past years). They were, in a slightly better showing, one-and a-half months behind in reading growth. But the scores of students in schools serving largely BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) students showed these students were starting about four months behind in math learning and perhaps as much as two months behind in reading. The report notes: 'Four months tracks with the number of months of disrupted learning after schools began closing in March 2020, suggesting some students didn't learn any new material once the pandemic hit.'
Lack of access to technology was likely one reason (of several) student growth was behind this year, and yet BIPOC K–5 students were generally more likely to continue in distance learning arrangements this school year. In a separate analysis of other data sources, the report concludes that Black and Latino students were more likely to start this school year learning all-remotely. The researchers estimate that while 26 percent of white students started learning in hybrid models this school year and 49 percent in all-remote models, for Black students, it's 16 percent in hybrid, 69 percent in all-remote.

Source: McKinsey & Company. (2020). 'COVID 19 and Learning Loss: Disparities Grow and Students Need Help.'

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