Lost Learning with COVID-19

Recouping Lost Learning Due to COVID-19


Name: Josh Recio
Role: K–12 Course Program Specialist
Years with Dana Center and/or in this field:
3 years at the Center; 15 years in education


Can you give a brief overview of what recouping lost learning means in education?

By upending the Spring 2020 semester, COVID-19 created a unique situation where students were denied the opportunity to finish out their K–12 semester—and learn their grade-level content.

This disruption will have an impact for years to come, but we educators should not postpone on-level learning as we move forward. Here at the Dana Center, we recommend that teachers try out a corequisite (as opposed to prerequisite) model, finding a way to integrate possible “lost” learning skills into current grade-level and age-appropriate content.

Note: While the phrase “unfinished learning” came about as a way to reframe conversations about student learning away from deficit-based language, a more accurate phrase—that puts the onus on the education system and not the individual student—might be unfinished teaching.

What makes you excited about the future of recouping lost learning?

The most exciting thing about this opportunity is that it opens up a space for teachers to really dig into content outside their own grade level. For example, to make up for lost learning (or lost teaching), a 6th-grade teacher will need to work with their 5th-grade teacher colleagues to have a better sense of where prior content will need to be embedded into teaching for the current year. At the same time, 7th-grade teachers will get to work with 6th grade to have a better understanding of what was or was not taught. The COVID-19 crisis creates opportunities for teachers to be even more informed about the developing progression of content across grade levels, which should benefit everyone going forward.

What issues in education can be addressed through strategies for recouping lost learning?

Teaching through a corequisite model—where content skipped or lost due to the pandemic is taught concurrently with the on-grade-level course content—prevents students from continuing to fall behind since a corequisite teaching approach does not put off getting to on-level content. Students who are traditionally marginalized already deal with a lack of opportunity to learn the same “level” of content as their peers, so a systemwide corequisite model attempts to stop the perpetuation of this inequity.

What do you see as one or two of the biggest challenges to unfinished teaching?

The biggest challenge is knowing when and where to embed content from the prior year. The optimal places in the curriculum to embed such content could vary greatly between students, depending on the schools they came from, their teachers, and their personal circumstances. Teachers will need to be very intentional in their planning as they help students make up for lost learning.

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