I have four young children, my oldest is in first grade. My daughter started Kindergarten last year, and, like most children, she was in school from August to March—just seven months of in-person instruction. After this school year, my daughter will have spent more time learning during Covid than in the traditional classroom setting. As a parent, I often wonder what this will mean for her.
Her district, North Shore School 112, has been proactive and agile just like many districts around the country. The time, energy, and planning educators have exerted is awe-inspiring. Even with all of this effort and planning, even with a supportive, amazing wife who also has a background in education, the future is uncertain for my children. How will this time in history affect our children’s reading, math, and social-emotional learning?
We have entered uncharted territory in both education and parenting. For decades, most students have been taught inside schools, with in-person teachers, administrators, peers, and families as guides. A question from a student could be answered in just a few seconds. Educational technology was a secondary, but helpful tool. Now, with teachers no longer in the same room as their students, we are seeing the impacts and pitfalls of disconnected tools, wondering what this new learning environment will mean for our children.
What is Covid Slide?
Similar to the well-documented Summer Slide, Covid Slide implies that over time, students will slide backwards while adjusting to new learning environments. While we do not know how every student will be affected, they will experience some impact from this dramatic change.
The Proactive Path
What can educators do to lessen the effects of Covid Slide? Proactivity is the way forward. Typically, teachers do this in person, with formative checks and observations in addition to other types of assessments. If we know where students are at any given moment in this environment, we can actively identify some of the learning gaps of the Covid Slide now, rather than wait until everything “returns to normal”.
Educators know that student growth is not a straight line. There are ups, downs, and plateaus. The best way to ensure continued growth is to consistently measure student learning.
Assessment can be a scary term, especially when it is used as a synonym for tests and quizzes. However, the simplified definition of assessment is “the measurement of learning.” To distill this even further, as educators we need to evaluate how a student is continuously progressing so we can identify areas of improvement and provide feedback to help them continue to grow.
What does this look like in practice?
Roseville City School District adopted Otus this year, and in a few short weeks have leveraged Otus to have students complete over 200,000 assessments and 300,000 lessons. Over time, these data points tell a more complete story of where students are across a variety of subjects. Teachers, administrators, and families can act on that data not just this year, not just for Covid Slide, but in the years to come.
“Using Otus this school year has really added to the connection I have with my students, especially in Distance Learning environment. Using the Lessons tab in Otus allows me to give my students a daily overview of activities, so they are ready to go when the learning happens.”
4th Grade Teacher, Cirby Elementary
With student data in one place, district administrators, teachers, and families will always know where their students are, no matter the learning or teaching environment. When the world does “return to normal,” Roseville will be ahead of the curve.
There is fear in the unknown. If you are looking at a problem from one angle, you cannot see the complete picture. But, if we have breadcrumbs, clues, and evidence, and all of that information and data in one system, we can support students as they continue this year and beyond.