Thursday, July 13, 2023

Pandemic Learning Loss and retention


I see tweets on pandemic learning loss as well as arguments against retention.

I decided to delve into this and see if I am able to contribute a few of my thoughts.

My first student who could not even read a single sentence when he came to me for tuition in 2004 was sent to a private school, SMK Simon Fung. The school would only accept him if his parents accepted him to be placed in grade one. That was when he was sent to me for private tuition. LINK

It was not easy teaching him and I tried all the different methods I could think of.

At the end of grade 1, his mother was proud to announce that the report card of my student had a statement saying that he was the most improved reader in his class.

Now, what would have happened if he had been placed in grade 1 and did not have private tuition? He may have left school as an illiterate.

When he was in grade 4, halfway through the year he was promoted to grade 5. In grade 5 he had no problem in reading but he could not understand math and science as he had missed one year in these two subjects. Fortunately, I saw his test papers and saw him getting about 20 % for both subjects. I then asked the father to send his son for tuition in both subjects. Instead of 3 hours a week, he came to tuition for 6 hours a week.

He caught up with his work and obtained good results in grade 6.

My Son was the only boy promoted to grade 5 after passing his PTS examination in grade 3. (PTS exams were conducted to discover exceptional students who then skipped grade 4 and went directly into grade 5.)

His marks in math and science in grade 5 were dismal.

I bought the grade 4 math and science books and started to teach him from scratch. Within a short period of time, he had caught up and obtained high marks in all subjects.

He went on to do 16 subjects, when most other students did only 9 subjects, in SPM (year 11) and obtained 15 A’s and 1 B and was the top student in the state.

Now, I wonder how a kid, especially one from a poor family, will cope with say grade 2 having missed grade 1 during the pandemic?

What did the schools do to cater for the missed year/years?

The following is what I read this morning in a Chalkbeat article found here.

There’s been little, if any, progress making up large learning gaps that have emerged since the onset of the pandemic, according to a new analysis of data from the testing group NWEA.

In the 2022-23 school year, students learned at a similar or slower rate compared to a typical pre-pandemic school year, the analysis found. This left intact the substantial learning losses, which have barely budged since the spring of 2021.

The results are “somber and sobering,” said NWEA researcher Karyn Lewis. “Whatever we’re doing, it’s not enough,” she said. “The magnitude of the crisis is out of alignment with the scope and scale of the response and we need to do more.”

How are students to catch up?

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