Understanding, Measuring, and Addressing Student Learning Needs During COVID-19 Recovery

Commentary author

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, PACE Executive Director Heather Hough offers an approach involving multiple phases, transitioning from immediate action to re-entry and eventual recovery. The closure of schools due to the pandemic is expected to result in substantial learning loss, especially among disadvantaged students, necessitating a comprehensive assessment of their academic and emotional needs upon their return to school. This crisis has highlighted disparities in distance learning and accentuated existing inequalities, making it imperative to address diverse impacts and support students effectively. To address these challenges, proposing a state-level diagnostic assessment using existing resources like SBAC emerges as a unified and cost-effective means to identify learning gaps and guide resource allocation. The upcoming school term brings uncertainty, demanding clear guidelines, adaptability, and adequate resources for schools to embrace novel learning models. Immediate measures include safeguarding education funding, urging federal support, and targeting assistance for vulnerable students. Additionally, there is an opportunity to overhaul California's funding system to better reflect the critical importance of public education. This commentary is modified from testimony delivered to the California Assembly Budget Committee on April 28, 2020.