Needed Right Now…Reading Instruction and Competency-Based Assessment

Previous Government Stimulus

Government stimulus efforts have been aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various sectors, including education. While these initiatives have provided financial support to schools and districts, they have not been entirely effective in addressing the loss of learning experienced by K-12 students. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the sudden shift to remote or hybrid learning models due to school closures presented significant challenges. Many students faced difficulties in accessing technology and reliable internet connections, leading to unequal access to educational resources. Furthermore, teachers and students had to adapt to new modes of instruction, often without adequate training and support, which resulted in a less effective learning environment for many.

Secondly, the stimulus funds allocated to education were primarily intended for urgent needs such as purchasing technology, improving infrastructure, and implementing safety measures. While these investments were necessary, they did not specifically target learning recovery or address the instructional gaps caused by the disruptions. As a result, the impact on student learning outcomes has been limited.

Learning Loss

To effectively address the loss of learning, the remaining funds should be prioritized towards targeted reading instruction and new approaches to assessing competency-based learning.

Reading Instruction

Investing in reading instruction is crucial because reading skills serve as a foundation for academic success across all subjects. Additional resources can be allocated to hiring reading specialists, providing professional development for teachers, and implementing evidence-based reading programs. These initiatives would help identify struggling readers early on, provide targeted interventions, and ensure that students are equipped with essential literacy skills.

Competency-based Assessment of Learning

Furthermore, adopting new approaches to assessing competency-based learning can provide a more accurate measure of student progress and inform instruction accordingly. Traditional standardized tests may not capture the full range of skills and knowledge students have acquired during this disrupted period. Alternative methods such as project-based assessments, portfolios, and performance tasks can provide a more comprehensive view of student competency and help identify areas for improvement.

Traditional Inequities

In addition to these measures, it is essential to address the underlying inequities in education that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. This includes ensuring access to technology and internet connectivity for all students, providing support for students with special needs, and addressing the socio-economic factors that affect learning outcomes.

Wider Agreement is Needed

By focusing the remaining funds on targeted reading instruction and innovative assessment methods, while also addressing systemic issues, it is possible to make significant strides in mitigating the loss of learning experienced by K-12 students. However, it will require a concerted effort from educators, policymakers, and communities to implement these strategies effectively.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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