The Long Road to Recovery - Buckeye Community Hope Foundation

The Long Road to Recovery

The Long Road to Recovery
By Stan Nicol, M.ED., Data Analysis and School Accountability

Recovery can be a slow painful process. As many of us can attest, recovering from an injury can take months or even years and involve various forms of physical therapy. If we think of the pandemic’s effect on student learning like a severe injury, we need to access the damage and provide academic therapy for our students.  

A recent study1 released by the Center for Education Policy and Research at Harvard University and Stanford University’s Education Opportunity Project shows how the pandemic affected student learning. They emphasize the importance of adding instructional time. Students require additional time to make up for lost instruction. Schools can add instruction time by extending the school day, or by adding additional days to the school year. Researchers estimate students fell behind by half a year in mathematics and a quarter year in reading. In high-poverty areas, students are closer to 1.5 years behind in mathematics. That’s a lot of time to make up! 

Increasing chronic absence rates make the recovery process harder. While students are returning to in-person instruction, simply showing up to school will not be enough to return achievement to pre-pandemic levels. But increasing attendance is definitely a start. 

At Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, we monitor our school data and use this information to develop learning targets and professional development opportunities around the needs of our schools. In figure 1 below we see our Performance Index trend using un-processed OST and EOC data from the last three administrations. We see English Language arts (ELA) scores recovering and Mathematics scores remaining flat.  
We see, what the research indicates, a larger lag in mathematics scores. Using additional data, we can drill into each school’s results and identify areas of need down to individual standards.  

Figure 2 shows the rolling three-year performance index trend by grade level. For comparison we include the recovery at the state level. The data shows our schools recovering at a faster rate than schools across Ohio. While scores are not back to pre-pandemic levels, we see scores moving in a positive direction. Please note: High School ELA has fallen into a negative growth trend. 
Doing the same analysis with math scores we see a similar positive trend. While we see positive gains, we know from figure 1 that math scores have a longer road to recovery. Figure 3 shows the recovery trend for both our schools and the overall state scores. As with the ELA results, we see high school scores demonstrating negative growth. 
The data and research are clear. Schools cannot make up for lost instructional time without adding that lost time back. Schools, students, and parents must partner to address learning losses. As the Center for Education Policy and Research at Harvard University’s Director Thomas Kane states: “schools were not the sole cause of the learning losses and will not be the sole solution.”  

1Center for Education Policy Research (2023). New research finds that pandemic learning loss impacted whole communities, regardless of student race or income. Retrieved from ERSNationalPressRelease_051123.pdf (  “Devastating”: Pandemic learning loss needs urgent attention in U.S., national survey finds. (2023, May 15). Retrieved from
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