Monday, June 15, 2020

To Those Of You Worried About The Covid Slide

Dear concerned policy makers, bureaucrats, and edu-wonks:

Ever since NWEA, the testing manufacturer that promised it can read minds by measuring how long it takes students to pick a multiple choice answer, issued their report on the Covid-19 Slide, you have been freaking out a little because they hear you say that distance learning has been disastrous and if we do it again in the fall, we'll produce a generation of students too dumb to come in out of the rain.  Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to members of Congress has been experiencing bovine birth events in response to the report. I just want to make two quick points for you.

First, you don't need to freak out over the study. Because it's not so much a "study" as a rough best guess about how students might do on a single not-great standardized test of math and reading. On the other hand, you can freak out a little bit, because while the report is ludicrous, if you actually talk to teachers and students and families, you'll hear that distance disaster school is not great. But you really don't need to base any of your argument on NWEA's totally made up numbers.

Second. Let's pretend that the numbers aren't made up. Let's pretend that it's true that, due to the slide, students will lose 30% of a year's worth of math and 50% of as year's worth of reading. That would be super double-plus ungood.

Let me remind you of the 2015 study by CREDO, an organization that is pro-charter school, discovering that the average cyber-school student fell behind 180 days in math and 72 days in reading-- in other words, a loss of 100% of a year's worth of math and 40% in reading.

Some of you folks, like this pair of Congressional representatives, think that the numbers from the NWEA study are alarming enough that schools must absolutely get back into their traditional brick and mortar classrooms. I'm just asking-- if the numbers from NWEA are bad enough to require a shutdown of the whole distance crisis learning model, shouldn't the numbers for cyber-schools merit shutting those down as well? If you're concerned that the house is bursting into flames, why share some concern for the garage and barn that have been burning for over a decade?


  1. The real COVD19 "slide" that should concern everyone has nothing to do with academic "loss". The real slide has to do with the loss of routine and discipline from this de-facto six month "summer" vacation has produced. Tens of thousands if not millions of kids literally fell of the on-line remote learning grid as if they didn't exist. The disappearance of so many kids who lacked the parental support and the unreasonable demand on them for self-discipline will take a toll that will negatively impact them in a much more serious way than missing out on the FOIL method. And, any version of the 2020 - 2021 school year that continues to require an an-line presence will further disenfranchise the neediest of students.

    1. This idea may sound sacrilegious, but might we have to consider the end of compulsory education for all??????