How will schools gauge learning loss?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Kids will be back in school full-time in a matter of weeks—but how soon will it be until parents and teachers get a real sense of where their student is academically and socially after a year and a half of pandemic learning?

There’s no doubt the pandemic has taken a toll on our children.

“We call it unfinished learning and what we know happened in the last 18 months while students were home, is they became more resilient in independent learning, they became more resilient in problem-solving,” said Rochester City School District Chief of Communications Marisol Ramos-Lopez.

Resilient maybe, but not every student thrives as an independent learner, and as they head back to the classroom, teachers will be the first to determine whether there has been learning loss and how much.

“Teachers are very concerned, about not only the learning loss that may have occurred but the trauma that children have been subjected to,” said Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanksi.

That’s why RTA has been pushing the district to consider a few changes.

“We’re still pressing the district to lower class sizes so that teachers can actually get around to every child… We also want them to hire more guidance counselors, hire more school psychologists and social workers because the children will need additional support and the district, fortunately, has all the funding that they would need to do that,” Urbanski said.

RCSD Administration says it’s tackling the issue two ways, helping students reintegrate into traditional learning and helping teachers, use the lessons learned from the pandemic to expand their own approaches.

“We know that some students struggle but we also know that a lot of students thrived in that format and so how do we start incorporating some new learning opportunities to ensure that students get the best possible learning outcome and learning experiences while they’re with us at the district,” Ramos-Lopez said.

A lot starts with technology, RCSD students have been allowed to keep their Chromebooks and Wifi hotspots throughout the summer but if changes or upgrades are needed, now is the time.

“If there are any families out there that need some Internet connectivity please reach out to your school, if there are students who need a Chromebook please reach out to the school because we want students to be prepared and ready for success right on the first day of school,” Ramos-Lopez said.