If your child is behind, s/he is not alone
In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics assessments for age 9 students to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NAEP 2022 results were shocking, showing a 5 point decline from 2020, They have caused panic in education circles.
This prompted a New York Times headline – The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading and this quote:
The setbacks could have powerful consequences for a generation of children who must move beyond basics in elementary school to thrive later on.
Bloomberg has also chimed in with an even more dramatic headline — Pandemic Learning Loss is a National Crisis – and this quote:
..While most — though not all — public-school students have returned to the classroom, the scale of learning loss revealed by the NAEP calls for deeper and more aggressive interventions. President Joe Biden can be doing far more to call public attention to the crisis and mobilize all levels of government to address it, including accelerating efforts to recruit and train tutors focused on highly vulnerable students.
Bloomberg has put funds into supports initiatives to extend the school day, lengthen the academic year, expand summer-school slots, and launch more “Saturday academies.” The early grades are the “learn to read” years, flipping to “read to learn” in 3rd to 4th grade. Part of the urgency here is over timing – the “learn to read” period for so many children is taking longer This means making a start to the academic curriculum (read to learn) is delayed.
Is This Your Child?
Looking inside the NAEP 2022 numbers, notice the 9 year olds who already reading proficiently and did not suffer as much of a decline: – 2 points or <1%. Whereas those who struggled the most saw large declines – 10 points.
While this might reflect the fact that less well-funded school districts might have had longer lockdowns and/or were less able to support children remotely, there is a more obvious factor at play here.
Reading proficiency requires practice. Once a child starts reading, they see new vocabulary words on the page, see how sentences are put together, etc. – in other words, they become even better readers.
Over the Pandemic period the children who could read, kept reading at home and so kept improving as readers. And so their scores where little changed 2022 versus 2020.
However, those who find reading more laborious, did less reading at home as the oversight for reading requirements were less restrictive. These children tend to be the more resistant readers, making it hard for parents to replace the role of the school. And so many of these children fell behind.
We Practice What We’re Good At
The difference between the top 25% and the bottom 25% is the number of hours of reading each does. If a child enjoys reading, school or no school, she will read voluntarily or with a minimum amount of parent or remote teacher persuasion.
However, if a child finds reading difficult, and if that is your child, you know this – getting even 10 minutes of reading is like pulling teeth!
And so this sounds like an easy fix, but it’s not. If a child is not over the hump with reading, if it’s arduous, slow and/or if it’s hard for your child to comprehend the text and an unpleasant experience, reading is a chore. Every minute of reading practice is at best hard work and at worse humiliating.
Take Action: Tackle Reading First
Because of the Covid-related disruptions, time is short for children who are behind in so many areas. But first things first. If your child is behind in reading, that should be your focus. It affects so much. Not only is it needed for “read to learn,” just as importantly reading delays affect self esteem, homework, and test results.
And as we have discussed, the path to reading proficiency requires lots of reading practice.
And the only way to get children to become a consistent readers is help them overcome their reading difficulties. That’s not Saturday Academies, longer school days, etc. That’s finding a reading intervention that help children the code, that gets them to a place where reading is more automatic, easier.
One-Time Reading Intervention
We are biased, but we think that means Gemm Learning. In most cases, our online reading intervention needs 4-6 months to work on the cognitive skill gaps that make reading difficult. Our program rewires how a child reads, creating neural connections in the language part of the brain to make reading easier.
Once reading is more automatic and maybe even interesting, your child will more willingly put in the reading miles. And then once the reading practice hours start to pile up, your child can start moving up the NAEP percentiles! And much more.