Igniting Learning

School Environment Matters“Research on the academic impact of Hurricane Katrina showed that while students initially experience some learning loss, the persistence of these losses depended on the school environment. Losses faded after a year or two if students returned to stable schools, whereas losses tended to persist, especially in math, when students reentered chaotic or hostile environments.” –TNTP Elaine Allensworth and Nate SchwartzEdResearch for Recovery

student smiling at desk with notebook
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

The disruptions caused by the pandemic have resulted in significant losses in student learning and exacerbated longstanding inequities in our education system.  Educational leaders need to support learning recovery and researchers are suggesting educators focus on learning acceleration instead of academic remediation. Learning acceleration does not mean teaching faster, it means using a range of instructional strategies that can help all students access and learn the most important grade-level content, knowledge, and skills as quickly as possible. To accomplish this, students need a relevant and engaging learning environment that puts them at the center and ignites their passion and commitment to learn. Districts and educational leaders can support this work through the use of data, ongoing staff training and support, and continuing to monitor the overall health and welcomeness of the school environment.  

One national study estimates that Black and Latinx students lost about 10 months of learning, compared to six months of learning lost by White students. The same study estimates that students with lower incomes will lose an entire year of learning they would have otherwise gained if school had remained open. 

Equity priorities

  • Provide students with access to technology and the Internet to ensure a seamless connection between work they do at school and work they do at home. 
  • Prioritize family and student relationships, especially for groups disproportionately impacted, including students with lower incomes and English language learners (ELLs). 
  • Design learning environments that focus on the intersection between student learning, behavior, and social emotional needs.