The Problem

The abrupt closing of schools, early childhood programs, and child care centers to contain COVID-19 undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. This life-saving measure has had an unintended consequence: student learning loss that is unprecedented in scale and potentially catastrophic. As with COVID-19 itself, the harshest effects will fall most heavily on those with preexisting conditions, which in this instance include: lack of internet connectivity; children with special needs or with caretakers who work in the informal economy or in low-paid but “essential” jobs; and families with language and literacy barriers, housing and food insecurity, or any of the many other markers of poverty-related adversity.

Left unattended, learning loss of this magnitude — especially in the early grades — could further compromise the prospects for a generation of vulnerable children whose future already is at risk. Slowing, stopping, and reversing the pandemic-precipitated learning loss is an urgent priority that will take years to accomplish. And as with most disasters, “recovery” from learning loss will compete poorly with the more urgent “rescue and relief” concerns about health and safety that will occupy this school year and the next as well. Even so, paralysis is not an option. To accept the norm that disaster recovery takes a decade would require sacrificing the futures of this generation of children.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s Learning Loss Recovery Challenge starts NOW with a messaging and mobilization strategy to encourage and support communities to take urgent action to:

  • Slow and stop learning loss by investing in “fast track” assurances of student access to the internet, tutorial support and out-of-school learning opportunities as well as parent access to the information, supports and tools they need to succeed in their enhanced roles.
  • Jumpstart the recovery planning process by convening key decision makers and community stakeholders to develop a Learning Loss Recovery Compact that declares learning loss recovery an urgent priority; acknowledges the disproportionate impact on children of economically challenged families and children of color; and commits to a stakeholder-driven planning process that will include parents as essential partners in learning loss prevention and learning loss recovery.
  • Launch and lead Learning Happens Everywhere with local initiatives to transform formal and informal places and spaces into learning-rich opportunities and inspire a community-wide shared commitment to children learning.

What You and Other Donors Can Do

Donors can support the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading's (CGLR) Learning Loss Recovery Challenge Fund (LLRC Fund), which will underwrite messaging and mobilization activities as well as strategic support, technical assistance, capacity development and tools for local stakeholder coalitions taking up the challenge of slowing, stopping and reversing pandemic-precipitated learning loss.

Read the full article about COVID-19 learning loss at The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.