Tuesday, October 3, 2023

‘Learning is Unfinished, Not Lost’—A Message from the Mendocino County Office of Education


The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Office of Education:

As we soar past Labor Day weekend, all districts have welcomed students back to school. Although COVID-19 variants continue to spread, students and teachers are finding that campus life feels much like it did before the pandemic. The State of California lifted its mask mandate last spring and face coverings remain optional. Gone are the lines marking where students should stand to ensure social distancing. Sanitizing stations in classrooms and some plexiglass barriers remain among the few physical reminders that COVID-19 remains a threat. Across Mendocino County, schools are offering students and staff take-home COVID-19 testing kits upon request. 

Schools are now faced with how to help students catch up with their learning. Research suggests more students have experienced more unfinished learning during the last two years than ever before. With the pandemic waning, schools face a critical choice about how to respond. Should they use the traditional approach of reviewing all the content students missed, known as remediation? Or should they start with the current grade’s content and provide just-in-time support when necessary, known as learning acceleration? 

New data from Zearn, a nonprofit organization whose online math platform is used by one in four elementary students nationwide, provides one of the first direct comparisons of these two approaches—and compelling new evidence that schools should make learning acceleration the foundation of their approach.

Findings include:

  • Students who experienced learning acceleration struggled less and learned more than students who started at the same level but experienced remediation instead.
  • Students of color and those from low-income backgrounds were more likely than their white, wealthier peers to experience remediation—even when they had already demonstrated success on grade-level content.
  • Learning acceleration was particularly effective for students of color and those from low-income families and students learning English.

This is strong evidence that learning acceleration works, and that it could be key to unwinding generations-old academic inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. School leaders have an important opportunity in the months ahead to start providing teachers with the resources and support they need—and to start building the skill and beliefs that are necessary—to help every student engage in grade-level work right away.

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As a parent, what can you do to find out how your school is addressing learning loss? There are resources at Accelerate, Don’t Remediate at http://www.tntp.org/accelerate.

What else can be done to support students as they return to school? When summer ends, children often complain about the return to school; they mourn the loss of leisure time and worry about the onset of new challenges and responsibilities. A new teacher, classroom, and schedule, in addition to a harder curriculum and a higher expectation for academic performance, cause anxiety. The question becomes: what is normal anxiety when entering a new school year and when is it excessive? 

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, one child in every eight suffers from an anxiety disorder; meaning, a teacher with a classroom of 25 can expect two to three children with high anxiety levels. Anxiety is considered excessive when it interferes with a child’s well-being and ability to learn. High levels of anxiety are often apparent in a child’s behavior, such as temper tantrums. Excessive anxiety can lead to school avoidance. It can also manifest as physical symptoms, such as trouble breathing, nausea, headaches, and stomach aches. A UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools publication noted, “A child who expresses such symptoms should see a physician, as well as having special attention from his or her teacher and probably a support staff member such as a school psychologist or counselor.” 

To support students as they return to school, it can help to understand what anxiety looks like and how to reduce it. Sometimes anxiety manifests as uncertainty and a fear that the worst will happen. Students may be worried that the next grade level is beyond their capabilities. By asking children what, exactly, they are concerned about, parents can provide information and reassurance. For example, parents can describe what is expected at their child’s level of schooling and demonstrate that their child is, in fact, prepared to take on this new challenge. 

One of the best ways to support children is for families and teachers to work together. Open communication keeps everyone aware of current challenges and provides an opportunity for collaboration.

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  1. California schools are now faced with how to help students catch up with their learning. Research suggests more students have experienced more unfinished learning during the last two years than ever before.

    DeSantis kept schools open, jobs open, the economy open. The result was Florida went through Covid better than most states in the USA.
    NY, Calif. failed in handling of COVID — but Florida was among best: study.

    Overall, the bottom 10 on the study’s “report card” were dominated by states that had the most severe pandemic lockdowns and were among the last to finally reopen schools.

    “Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during COVID, particularly in blue states,”Keeping schools closed had no impact on the number of deaths in children or adults, according to the study.

    DeSantis for President

    • Agree. Anyone who say education is unfinished is trying to gloss over the truth. Students lost out greatly due to excessive lickdowns. California was already 48 out of 50, now 49 or 50? Newsom is a fool that thinks too highly of himself.

  2. Maybe if you people were teaching our children how to do important stuff like learn how to pay taxes and learn how to run a business and learn how to build a garden and be self-sustainable instead of forcing kids to learn about stupid shit like transgenderism and sexual identity politics at a incredibly young age maybe they would grow up to be intelligent leaders of this country who can help fix our infrastructure and make the world more sustainable instead of retarded soft pawns in stupid political games

    Stop taking taxpayer kickbacks for government experimentation on children and that will probably help us try to trust the school board once again

  3. Thank God there is going to be new leadership in the Mendocino County Office of Education. Hutchins wanted 2 slow roll the reopening of Mendocino County Schools and continue the ridiculous masking. I wonder if she’s been to work since she lost the election? Goodbye and good riddance.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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