Want to Tackle Learning Loss? First Listen to Your Students

Mar 16, 2021

What does it mean to tackle “learning loss” as a learning and equity-focused leader?

Max Silverman, our executive director, reflected on this question. And he turned his thoughts into an essay that Education Week published online last week.

Want to Tackle Learning Loss? First Listen to Your Students highlights the efforts underway in Ferguson-Florissant School District, Missouri (where CEL advisory board member Dr. Joseph Davis is superintendent) as well as in Grandview School District, Washington.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

History shows what can happen when leaders rush to intervene in the name of closing achievement gaps… (typical interventions) can lead to stripped-down curricula that emphasize rote learning over the critical thinking skills and problem-solving mindset that students need to grow as learners. 

To avoid a repeat as plans are drafted to recover learning impacted by the pandemic, leaders need to stop doing “to” students and start doing “with” them. That means engaging students in the design of their own school experience.

So far in this pandemic we don’t seem to be doing a great job of it, with districts like Ferguson-Florissant and Grandview the exception to the rule. Last spring, students in national surveys said they wanted a voice in how remote learning works but were rarely asked. A recent analysis suggests it’s the same story this year, with just a handful of districts having sought student input on their learning experiences. 

We need to do better as we plan for reopening. And Grandview Superintendent Henry Strom knows it.

 “Our principals know about student achievement, we have data points on achievement,” Strom says. “But we don’t have data points to know how students are feeling.”

 You can read the whole article here.