Learning Loss During the Pandemic: Marginalized Students Hit the Hardest
By Maria Skivnovia, a student
A year and a half into this pandemic, many are concerned about COVID’s effects on students. In a survey conducted in March, 53% of educators reported their students experiencing significant learning loss. But some students have suffered more than others, and as we enter the new school year, we must keep these disparities in mind and address them accordingly.
The pandemic has only increased pre-pandemic inequalities. Students of color, especially Black and Latino students, typically attend schools with less funding, fewer opportunities, less-experienced teachers, and more poorly-maintained facilities than majority-White schools. During COVID, students of color have been much less likely to experience in-person school, with only around 35% of Black and Latino students and 18% of Asian students enrolled in full time in-person instruction, compared to almost 60% of White students. Not to mention the technology barriers, which also affect students in low-income households and rural areas.
One study estimated that while White students lost one to three months of learning in math, students of color lost three to five. Additionally, Asian students have been frequent targets of harassment, which has undoubtedly interfered with their education.
COVID has also negatively impacted students belonging to other marginalized groups. Students learning English have had reduced access to resources, face-to-face interactions, and individualized instruction. And already more likely to be subjected to physical restraint, seclusion, disciplinary action, and bullying than their non-disabled peers pre-pandemic, during COVID, many students with disabilities have been unable to access services to which they are entitled by law, resulting in more students with disabilities performing poorly in their classes. LGBTQ+ students have lost access to supportive clubs and teachers, and more time at home has heightened risks of isolation and abuse from unsupportive or hostile family members. Low-income students have suffered as well, showing lagging scores on standardized tests and greater learning loss than their higher-income peers.
Over the course of this pandemic, teachers, administrators, and government officials have had to effectively reinvent education. Alongside them, students have tried to keep up, but many have suffered due to circumstances out of their control.
#IAmForChange because all students deserve a quality education, no matter their background, identity, or circumstances. We can’t redo this past year and a half, but as we proceed and rebuild, we must be mindful of how to make our future more equitable for all students, which means seriously recognizing and addressing the problems faced by those hit the hardest.
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