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State of Education: Addressing learning loss and the transition to higher education

State of Local Education: The return to the classroom
Posted at 3:58 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 19:10:05-04

BOISE, Idaho  — Idaho students are being impacted by the pandemic and the tug-of-war between in-person learning and virtual. The loss of learning, graduation rates, and how students are coping with the transition to higher education are all topics of concern.

Graduation Rates

As Idaho News 6 previously reported, the number of graduating seniors held steady and even rose in some cases with some schools seeing fewer students dropping out compared to a typical year.

Earlier this year Gregg Russell with the Nampa School district said, "Typically, in a normal year, we do have anywhere from about 60 to 80. Sometimes more kids that from one semester to another semester that don't enroll, or they may not finish, we did not see that this year, which is really surprising. We expected to see what we call our January kind of drop and that that really didn't occur."

Loss of Learning

While the loss of learning has been a huge topic of concern for students across the country. Educators believe that with a unique approach teachers can help close the gap.

"There has been some great research about how to make up student learning gaps and instead of remediation, the research is suggesting not acceleration, but the infusion of keeping kids on track with what they know and infusing what they have gaps in, into their regular learning so not forcing kids to get into remediation and sitting at computers doing tutorials to bring them up to speed, but just to infuse that learning into their regular classroom activities," said Dr. Kerry Rice, an Educational Technology professor at Boise State University.

Transition to Higher Education

"I think the hardest thing I notice with incoming freshmen, is that they struggle to advocate for themselves in that process. They have the head knowledge that yes, there is a center for academic success and advising that I can go and get help from, but actually taking that next step to seek that help out. I think that indicative of the high school setting there is teachers in the classroom, and there is really capable teachers in the classroom who can often intuitively know I need to walk alongside this student a little more closely," said Stacey Berggren, a Chief Admission Officer for Northwest Nazarene University.

"It's different in the collegiate classroom because sometimes we don't know that about students. So, if they don't advocate for themselves and avail themselves to those systems then they can get really behind. Another thing that I'm concerned about is just for these groups of students, some of this comes from having a 2020 graduate of my own. Their experience in college so far is quite different and they are having to flex and adjust just like they did at the high school level. For a lot of them, there was a lot of loss. So, they are coming to college in a deficit if you will, and not just academically, but sometimes emotionally and socially, mentally depending on their experience has been. So, we talk a lot here about once they're here with us how do we make sure that they transition well. That they get to a place where they understand the collegiate level and learn how to advocate for themselves within the systems that we have, and that's not easy for this group of students who is entering college with this sense of loss of no fault of anyone except for a global health crisis." said Berggren.

When it comes to online learning the laptop isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"I do think that online learning is a part of us now. It really has been for the last 10 years or so. but this pandemic is going to push us further into that. So, one of the things I would challenge to students if you're struggling in the online environment is seek some help because it's probably not going away." said Berggren.