Post-pandemic, can America's kids catch up on lackluster literacy rates?

Post-pandemic, can America's kids catch up on lackluster literacy rates?

June 23, 20232 min read

When COVID-19 hit, the education system nearly came to a halt. It went from in-person education in classrooms to virtual learning. Everyone knew there would be learning losses across the board. The question was how severe would they be and could those losses be mitigated?

Literacy rates took a big hit, especially in younger students. Without in-classroom instruction, children started to fall further behind.

According to the New York Times, about a third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks, which is up significantly from before the pandemic. While every demographic has been affected, Black and Hispanic children and those from low-income families have fallen the furthest behind.

Can anything be done to help students catch up?

Betsy VanDeusen, PhD, director of the Augusta University Literacy Center, said a lot of research is coming out now and what’s being called “high dosage tutoring” is the way kids can catch up.

“That just means you have to be able to see students more and more intensive,” said VanDeusen. “So we request for the kids that are at the lowest that we see them three times a week; one time a week won’t do it.”

While that works on an individual basis, VanDeusen said there’s no magic bullet.

While some schools here and there, and even a few states, may have found a way to help with literacy rates, the field continues to search for ways to implement needed changes across the entire educational system to support all students.

She also added the decline in literacy actually started before the pandemic.

“We’ve lost a tremendous amount. We lost 20 years of growth on the one national test that’s given. The achievement gap has been documented for decades and it has just been made worse.”

This is an important topic and if you're a journalist covering education or how the impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt across the country, then let us help with your coverage.

Betsy VanDeusen, PhD, director of Augusta University’s Literacy Center, is available to speak with reporters, simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.

Connect with:
  • Elizabeth (Betsy) VanDeusen, PhD
    Elizabeth (Betsy) VanDeusen, PhD Director, Augusta University Literacy Center

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