The pandemic is leaving colour college students behind and creating long-term results

The student enters PS 15 Roberto Clemente School in New York, USA on Tuesday, September 29, 2020.

Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt school education across the country, students are falling behind – no more than blacks and Hispanics, according to a report from McKinsey & Company.

This will have long-term effects on income and health, said Emma Dorn of Silicon Valley, manager of global education practices at McKinsey and co-author of the report.

“One of the great travesties of this pandemic is that it has hit the weakest among us the hardest,” she said.

“It is really imperative now to direct these resources to the students who need them most.”

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The report, which examines different school scenarios and the possible impact on students, is an update of the previous report from June.

At the beginning of the school year the students were already behind due to school closings in the spring. Kindergarten through fifth grade learned only 67% of the math and 87% of the reading that peers would normally have learned by fall, the report said, citing Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready platform.

For schools with more than 50% colored students, however, it fell to 59% in math and 77% in reading. In comparison, schools with more than 50% white students learned 69% of the math and 90% of the reading that their peers normally learned.

looking ahead

The good news is that schools have adapted to virtual learning and conditions have improved significantly since the spring, McKinsey noted. Yet even in the best case scenario, students will be lagging behind for an average of five months.

“There is a loss of learning. It’s real and unjust,” said report co-author Jimmy Sarakatsannis, a partner in McKinsey’s Washington, DC office.

“We’re doing better than in spring, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

The company estimates that around 60% of K-12 students started the school year completely remotely, while 20% started off with a hybrid of some personal classes and some secluded ones. The remaining 20% ​​went back to their classrooms all day.

The surge in Covid-19 cases means anything can happen between now and June 2021. McKinsey estimates that if schooling maintains the status quo, students could lose an average of nine months of math classes by the end of the school year. However, color students will be 11 to 12 months ago, compared to seven to eight months for white students.

The result is a worsening of the performance gaps as well as an impairment of profitability.

The effects are more severe for color students. McKinsey’s June report found that over 40 years of professional life, white students would earn $ 1,348 less per year (1.6% less), black students $ 2,186 less per year (3.3% less) and Hispanic students $ 1,809 less would earn (a 3.3% reduction). 3%).

What can be done

Significant investment is needed to make up for lost learning after the pandemic ends, according to the McKinsey report.

One example are so-called acceleration academies, which consist of small groups of eight to twelve students. They would receive 50 hours of targeted tuition over two weeks, which would aim to give them back 6 months of learning. At around $ 1,600 per student, it would cost $ 42 billion to reach 50% of school children in the United States

There is also high-intensity tutoring, ie 50 minutes of daily tutoring by paraprofessionals for one year. There are two students per teacher at a cost of $ 2,500 per student and they would study for a year or two. The cost: $ 66 billion to reach half of the students.

“One of the key drivers of America’s success is the ability of Americans to innovate and mobilize around ambitious goals,” the authors wrote.

For example, the country spent $ 250 billion in 1969 to put a man on the moon.

“A similar investment and focus on innovation is needed now in education – with more collaboration between the public, private and social sectors.”

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