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Reading Between the Lines: Identifying Learning Loss Through Technology

Submitted by: FACTS


Identify at-risk students earlier and easier

As educators and students around the world can attest to, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of being able to shift our perspectives. From redefining what it means to be together to what exactly a classroom looks like, we’ve had to adjust to a constantly changing environment. Technology has played a huge role in shifting these perspectives, providing the tools needed to keep up with changes, as well as a way to connect with the outside world as we sheltered in place.


Even with the best technology available, learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected schools worldwide, disrupting education for 1.6 billion students at its peak, according to a recent report by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF. Students experienced critical declines in learning in important subjects like math and literacy, as well as in social-emotional development. Many schools are turning to classroom intervention, tutoring, or after-school services as part of learning recovery, but it can be difficult to determine which students need the most help.


Shifting the Perspective on Data

The key to identifying learning loss in students may be as simple as reframing the data schools receive through their student information system (SIS). When viewed holistically, data received from an SIS like FACTS can help schools predict trends and proactively identify students showing signs of learning loss.


While identifying learning loss has traditionally relied on a hunch from a teacher, knowing what signs to look for across different data sets provided by a school’s SIS or learning management system (LMS) offers welcome support for educators stretched thin with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.





Data That Indicates Potential Learning Loss

So what sort of data are we talking about? While there’s no perfect algorithm to identify learning loss, reading between the lines of available data can help teachers identify students that need help catching up. From attendance to behavior, here are some of the key indicators that leaders and teachers should look for in their SIS and LMS in order to intervene as soon as possible.


Declining Grades or Test Scores

One of the clearest ways to identify learning loss is a decline in a student’s grades or scores. Consulting firm McKinsey found that first through sixth graders were an average of five months behind in math and four months behind in reading after the 2020-2021 school year, which can lead to lower scores on assessments.


With an SIS like FACTS, parents and tutors have access to online reports of assignments, quizzes, and test scores daily, allowing them to get involved in academic progress. Analytics can help identify students that are falling behind in the classroom and what topics they’re struggling with, making it easier for educators to identify trends and adapt lesson plans based on students’ learning levels.


Incomplete or Missing Assignments

Learning loss doesn’t apply only to academic subject matter. Due to the constant changes and upheaval of the previous school year, many students disengaged from school altogether, forgetting the behaviors and mindsets instilled in them through in-person instruction. This lack of commitment and interest can lead to incomplete or missing assignments.

Using an SIS or LMS allows teachers to quickly and easily access gradebook data to identify which students are not completing their assignments. Systems may also allow for teacher comments, providing a record of specific areas in which a student may be experiencing a decline in learning, as well as further information for parents and tutors to work with students at home.


Behavior Events

Looking at student behavior is another way to identify learning loss. When students don’t understand the material being covered, they might act out in order to hide or avoid subjects that are difficult for them. Personal difficulties may also lead a student to display a lack of interest, motivation, or engagement – which has a direct result on their performance, grades, and overall behavior.


Leaders can make use of behavior reports via their school’s SIS to identify behavior concerns that, when viewed in conjunction with low test scores or unfinished work, point to learning decline. These reports also provide invaluable information to parents who may not be aware of how their child is adapting to returning to the classroom or switching to a new style of learning.


Attendance Trends

Poor attendance is often the first and most obvious sign of learning loss. While some students struggle to attend virtual or hybrid classes, others may be struggling to reintegrate into a physical classroom. Growing absenteeism has been reported, likely reflecting quarantine regulations and other challenges unique to education during a pandemic.


Leaders and teachers can identify students with poor attendance easily through data available via their SIS or LMS, as with FACTS’ Excessive Absent/Tardy – Student Report. Reports like these allow educators to see what students are not receiving the instruction needed to keep on track with learning goals and identify learning loss before it becomes a serious problem.


Parent Communication History

If a student’s parents are frequently being contacted by their child’s teachers regarding bad behavior, missing assignments, or poor grades, it’s possible that learning loss may be to blame. Communication logs within an SIS allow schools to keep track of emails sent to parents regarding students' progress and needs. When a threshold set by a school has been met, it may be an indicator that learning decline is occurring and intervention may be necessary.

Keeping track of these communications is especially helpful if a student has multiple teachers that may not be able to communicate with each other about an individual student’s progress or performance. Logs allow both schools and parents to get a sense of a student’s overall performance and identify academic issues as soon as possible.


Although there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to identify learning loss, shifting our perspectives on what the student data we’re so used to seeing means is a great place to start. With an SIS that keeps different sets of data in one convenient location, it’s easier to notice similarities between reports and identify trends that can point to learning loss in students that teachers may not have initially suspected. While recognizing learning loss is only the first step in learning recovery, the sooner it’s identified, the sooner schools can move forward in preparing students to face the challenges of a changing world.


Learn more about FACTS Student Information and Learning Management System here.


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