There’s “a roiling debate in education, about how and even whether to measure the academic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s children — and how to describe learning gaps without stigmatizing or discouraging students and families.”
There’s no question but that millions of students have fallen behind. Two solutions. We spend the time to get them back up to where they should be. That could well mean repeating the lost year (or two). That’s stigmatizing and discouraging. Or we don’t. In which case, a generation remains behind. That’s also stigmatizing and discouraging.
Research shows many young children have fallen behind in reading and math. But some educators are worried about stigmatizing an entire generation.
“Still, when her fifth-grade son’s public-school teacher told her he was years behind in reading, … “That was very offensive to me,” she said. “I’m not putting in myself, my hard work, his hard work, for you to tell me that he’s at second-grade reading.””
Well, if the goal of education is to make people feel good about their efforts, we should just give everyone A’s. And then employers will know that an Oakland high-school diploma is worth nothing. Which is about the worst stigmatization you can get.
If the goal of education is to, well, educate, then the kids that are behind will be given additional (better) education and eventually graduate knowing what graduates should know. They won’t feel as good about themselves, but employers will respect their diplomas.
Unfortunately, “Research suggests that in-school tutoring from a highly trained teacher or aide, ideally one-on-one or in a small group, can help students who are behind catch up academically.” But that’s the most expensive sort of education, and schooling, especially public schooling, is about applying mass-production techniques to get the cost down to the point that it can be provided to all children. It’s probably simpler and much cheaper to just provide another year or two of regular instruction to some large fraction of the kids.
Massachusetts has exempted this year’s graduates from having to pass the MCAS. This makes the kids feel better but guarantees that diplomas from this year will be stigmatized, because the qualifications for them are less than for other years.