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Learning Loss of 2020-21

After a difficult year of online learning, there were many challenges and changes that students had to adjust to. One of which was an apparent learning loss. Of course, all challenges were understandable considering how our lives changed from the pandemic. Many families struggled during this time, whether it was from  financial issues, or the isolation and anxiety of quarantine, all which affected students’ focus in school.

A lot of people have mentioned they noticed grades dropping. According to a recent article from Forbes, “Learning loss, Urgent Crisis or Harmful Myth,” it is estimated that we’ve lost about four or five months of learning. However, some people may argue that we didn’t lose any time, “Students haven’t missed out on any learning at all; they’ve just learned differently, and possibly more valuable things,” mentions Forbes. We definitely learned differently, through a zoom screen and doing work online and we also learned different things like Rachel Gabriel said, “Perhaps, they’ve learned more than previous cohorts of students, because of what they have lived through and lived without.” 

Upon interviewing an English teacher here at SBHS, Mr Howe, he admitted to noticing last year’s learning loss. When questioned about the time that was lost and what caused such a drop in student grades he answered saying, “Lack of engagement by students which wasn’t their fault, lack of connection really created this environment where communication was virtually impossible…Teachers were trying their hardest but when you talk to students through a screen without seeing their face, eyes, without being able to read their body language, it creates an awkward environment.” Mr. Howe continued, commenting on how grades dropped to the point where the district instituted a policy where teachers couldn’t give F’s. “I saw grades drop, I talked with colleagues, they saw grades drop.” After being back in person learning for a couple months now, when asked if he saw improvement, he responded with, “Absolutely, but I also feel like students are still a little shell-shocked, you know when we first came back, at times I felt like I had to remind students that we weren’t on a computer screen… but I think students are re-engaging.” This wasn’t just hard on students but on teachers too which is why when asked if he felt happy to be back, Mr Howe said he is super happy to be back but it was super hard as well. “As teachers, we had to reinvent ourselves…. but we are definitely happy to be back and move around and talk and you know, joke around with people.” 

Ms. Jordan, another English teacher here at SBHS, was also interviewed. She had a different point of view, perhaps a more positive one. When asked if she thought online learning made us lose time she answered saying that she actually thinks it saved time, “no need to get dressed or catch a ride- just slide into your robe and bunny slippers and get to the class Zoom.” Ms. Jordan has a lot of positive things to say about online learning, and actually said that a lot of kids did better last year since there were less distractions as there are  in a classroom setting. “Grades were pretty much the same. Kids who always did well figured out a new system to keep them current and on top of their work. Kids who found ways not to do the work before the Covid crisis found even better ways not to do the work on Zoom,” she says. The only negative thing she’s noticed is that students seem very tired, more than in the pre-COVID days, probably since many kids attended school from the comfort of their bed. Ms. Jordan shared that she is very happy to be back in person and being able to check in and have real conversations. “It was a downer trying to teach to a screen of colored cubes,” she joked, although she can’t deny the fact that part of her misses being able to teach in her slippers with her cat on her lap.

As a student who was on the other side of that Zoom screen, I think grades dropped a lot and students weren’t as engaged. It was hard to concentrate and participate when most screens were off. I know that most of us students are happy to be back in person. 

[Image Credit: Compare Fibre]


  • Valeria Polanco

    Valeria Polanco is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and the News Editor for The Forge. She hopes to further her education within the community and wants to use the skills she learned through the Forge throughout her educational and professional life in the future. Outside of the class she likes to read and hangout with her friends and family.

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