September 13, 2023

JD2718: Learning Loss

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Blogging under the name JD2718, this teacher has some thoughts about learning loss and the NYT piece by David Leonhardt.

You want to say you read The NY Times for the crossword? Ok, I guess. Sports? Don’t pretend. News? Come on. It’s not news. It’s consistent hard centrist propaganda. Including when it comes to schools.

Best option? Stop reading it. There’s better news sources. But if you insist, at least identify the anti-progressive propaganda. and that includes the anti-public school slant. Like them pretending “learning loss” is a thing. Like that hack David Leonhardt did, again, this morning.

Learning loss, right? Most of you reading this are teachers, or were teachers. Think about it. A kid comes into your class in September, and they leave in June. And during the time they are with you, they “lose learning.” What’s that? They know less in June then they did in September. Seriously? They actually “lose learning”? I know that doesn’t happen. You know that doesn’t happen, except in some rare, pathological conditions. everyone knows that doesn’t happen.

A kid sits in your class for 10 months and knows less coming out than they did coming in. They “lost learning”. Has that happened to any of your students? Not mine.

And over the summer? The kids forget things over the summer? Sure. But those are generally not things that the kids really knew. I mean, they forget some stuff, but they are more likely to forget test prep material that they never really knew than things that they had actually learned. And when schools closed during the pandemic, did this happen? Sure. But not so much. And that’s not what the Times means by “learning loss.”

No, the New York Times writes “learning loss,” and they mean that a fourth grader in June during the 2020-21 pandemic year knew less than a fourth grader – not the same kid, they’re comparing him to some other kid – that he knew less than some other fourth grader from the previous year did at the end of the previous year.

The kid didn’t “lose learning” – he learned less than a kid who went to school when there was no COVID.

And actually, that’s not what the Times is saying. We – I assume you, dear reader, are a teacher – know that kids learned less during the shutdowns and remote instruction. But the Times did not ask us, would not trust us. The Times thinks that test scores (or their equivalent) fell. The Times thinks learning (at least for poor peoples kids) is equivalent to test scores.

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