As our education systems move from scrambling to adapt to school closures and distance learning towards something approaching normality, many are asking questions about how to recover what was lost. How have children been impacted by this unprecedented gap in their learning? Will there be long-term effects? Will they suffer socially and emotionally from the “COVID slide”? And what can be done to make up for lost ground?

Education nonprofits can play a significant role in our nation’s efforts to meaningfully support underserved students, supporting teachers with reading instruction approaches proven to be more effective for most children in the classroom.

For example, when schools moved to online teaching in 2020, it was clear that young learners who were already struggling would be the most negatively impacted. For underserved Latinx students, many of whom are English learners, learning to read was already a challenge, and this would only be exacerbated by remote instruction. So in June 2020, we started our newest program, Pathways to Literacy, to address this critical need in our community, targeting first-grade students of the Latinx community at no cost to their families.

The results of these two programs—one focusing on building teacher capacity to support all students, the other providing direct services to a targeted population—have been far-reaching. LPLC’s program evaluations for the Idaho Early Literacy Program consistently show that the school districts that participate in the project see greater gains from fall to spring in the percentage of students able to read at grade level: One district went from 46 percent of students meeting reading benchmarks as measured by the Idaho Reading Indicator in September to 79 percent in May (compared to the state average, which only increased from 52 percent to 69 percent during that same school year).

These programs have been successful for specific reasons:

  • They complement each other to address the larger education ecosystem.
  • They are grounded in the science of learning and development.
  • They leverage partnerships with schools and other community organizations.

Read the full article about bolstering early literacy by Evelyn Johnson, Alan Pesky and Claudia Aulum at Stanford Social Innovation Review.