Mitigating COVID-19 Learning Loss

April 24, 2020 Sarah Williamson By Sarah Williamson
Summer School Program

Many districts are well aware of summer slide, which is the loss of academic knowledge during the summer, typically around one month’s worth of learning, according to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). That number can be even higher for disadvantaged students who have less access to academic programs over the summer.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 learning losses could be even more acute. In a report released by NWEA, this year’s fifth and sixth graders may only retain 70 percent of their learning progress; and middle school students could lose all of their academic learning growth in math from the previous year. Students falling behind in math is also a major concern for teachers, according to a recent Education Week survey.

During this unusual time, districts are tasked with preventing and remediating learning losses in the short-term, while also preparing for potential future closures in the long-term. With changes in assessments and grading flexibility, such as pass/fail and making the third quarter grade the final grade, many students will be promoted without sufficiently mastering course content.

To address these challenges, districts are evaluating summer school options that could provide the support students need to get back on grade-level. Listen to a full webinar on this topic here. Below we share several considerations for evaluating a summer school program to ensure it meets the needs of your district.  

1) Accredited and approved.

Not all digital curriculum providers are created equal, and not all providers will design rich learning experiences that meet the individual learning needs of each student. When selecting a partner for online curriculum, it’s important to consider whether it deepens student understanding. Summer school programs should be accredited and approved by trusted organizations like the NCAA, the University of California, and the College Board to ensure the quality of a program.

2) Available support.

Many summer school programs offer certified, online teachers who provide detailed and individualized feedback on graded assignments and tutors who are available to work with students in real-time. Be sure to understand the support available to students, teachers and district leaders with any digital curriculum option.

3)  Rigorous and engaging.

Many students want the option to choose when, where and how quickly they work. Students using online curriculum should be able to see where they are, how they are progressing, and what they need to do next. It helps if there are visuals available to track their progress along the way as well as regular feedback motivating students to excel. Active instruction can encourage students to observe, inquire, create, connect, and confirm their learning along the way. This continuous blend of direct instruction and “doing” helps students stay engaged, apply their learning, and continuously receive feedback.

4) Multiple curriculum options.

From advanced placement courses, to credit recovery and supplemental curriculum (to support learning losses), make sure the summer program you decide on will offer a variety of learning options to meet the unique needs of your district’s students.

6) Tracking student progress.

It should be easy to monitor and track student progress and performance. Does the monitoring include weekly emails that are sent out as a report to both teachers and parents? Reports can provide an overview on students are doing as well as detailed information like scores earned and how much time has been spent in the course.


How we can help

Apex Learning offers multiple summer school options for districts, including addressing learning gaps, getting students back on track or providing opportunities to get ahead. Learn more at:

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