With students back in classroom, schools address learning loss experienced during pandemic

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — One month after the last Orange County Public Schools families were told to resume in-person learning, district officials say an all-out effort is underway to make up for lost time.

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Educators say students who spent more of their time learning at home were generally behind their peers who attended in-person lessons, with some exceptions.

With society trying to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic for a third time, the race is on to leave some of its legacy behind.

“We’re working really hard within our schools, identifying our students making sure that they’re getting the resources they need … in order to try to elevate those [testing] scores,” OCPS spokesman Scott Howat said.

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An analysis by McKinsey & Company at the beginning of the school year found elementary students were four months behind in reading and five months behind in math, with worse effects among poor, minority communities.

Howat said Orange County’s learning loss was “across the board” and educators were still working through who needed help, how much and in which areas.

He said kids have been rebounding quickly once they begin meeting regularly with their teachers.

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“We’re addressing those [losses] and trying to identify [students] and making sure we’re working with their parents to get them back on track,” he said.

When asked how long the catch-up would take, he said he wasn’t sure – but the federal government was providing funding to assist the district through at least 2024.

Part of that funding will help expand summer programs to assist students who need that extra support.

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Howat said more information would be provided through state testing scores to give the district a fuller picture of the obstacles ahead.


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