Learning Loss: The Challenge of Measurement

Learning Loss: The Challenge of Measurement

Editorial: LAUSD’s efforts to address learning loss should inspire hope, not chaos and frustration

If there is one thing that has never changed in the face of a decade of intense debate about student learning loss and the need for reform, it is the underlying reality that has defined the debate itself: learning loss.

Learning loss remains central to the debate because for the past 12 years, school districts have been under pressure to measure the effectiveness of many different approaches to addressing learning loss in order to show that they are using the right strategies to improve outcomes for students, teachers and society.

While one approach or another has been adopted as the “best practice” approach for any given district, learning loss itself is at the center of the debate, because the most frequently used metrics for measurement have been found to be less powerful than any other school-wide approach.

It is also no accident that the most common types of learning loss used in learning loss analyses and by school districts in the past decade are social-emotional learning, reading comprehension, math, and science. And, the number of approaches that schools have attempted to address are numerous. What is lacking is a clear understanding of what and how to measure what.

In California, this means that we need to develop a consistent set of metrics and measurements for our schools that reflect the fact that our schools are not just about improving “student learning” but are about building and maintaining strong and healthy communities.

In her recent book, “Crisis in the Classroom: When Children No Longer Excel, Our Schools Need You,” author and education policy expert Sarah D. C. Macdonald, M. Ed., PhD, writes that we need to adopt a new vision of education, “one where our students and educators are able to flourish in their environment, but where they are also valued and understood.”

What that vision is will be the key to moving forward. What I don’t know is whether it actually exists – because it looks a lot different than the other visions that are also being proposed – because the other visions don’t have a clear articulation of what they want to achieve, and they can be as divisive as the visions that they aim to replace.

When we are asked what

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