Parents have been all too aware for the last few years that the effects of school lockdowns led to significant COVID learning loss, and now Georgetown University has an estimate of the learning loss for many districts in the nation and the cost to recover.
Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab recently released a calculator which measures the number of weeks on average students are behind in the key areas of reading and math and the estimated cost of direct tutoring to remedy those deficits, which has been found to be the most effective way to address educational gaps. It also shows the extra federal funding for each district from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund III (ESSER III), which is more than the tutoring costs for most districts.
The estimated learning losses represent predicted averages for each district’s mix of students, with higher losses in some schools and for some students and lower in others based on learning time lost through the fall of 2021.
The Sentinel picked a cross-section of school districts across the state, from large to small, from shutdown to open or mostly open, to compare the COVID learning loss and the cost to recover.
Louisburg was one of the few schools open for full-time in-person learning in the Kansas City Metro and has a loss of five weeks in math and two weeks in reading. The estimated cost of tutoring is $840,786, and Louisburg received $917,519 in ESSER III funds. Louisburg and three other districts — Cheney, Renwick, and Rock Creek — suffered the least learning loss at seven total weeks.
Blue Valley saw an estimated seven weeks of math loss and one week of reading loss. Tutoring costs are estimated at just under $12.5 million, and the district received just over $13 million in funds.
Olathe lost nine weeks of math and four weeks of reading. The costs of tutoring to remedy these gaps are estimated at about $26.8 million. The district received $18.6 million in ESSER III funding.
Students in the Kansas City Public Schools, which had heavy lockdowns, suffered the worst COVID learning loss among Kansas districts in the Edunomics database, at 20 weeks behind in math and 19 weeks behind in reading. Tutoring costs are estimated at $57.9 million, and the district received $82.4 million in ESSER III funds.
Wichita — also heavily locked down — fared only marginally better, with 15 weeks of loss in both categories. The estimated cost of tutoring is $95.9 million, and the district received $169.5 million in extra federal funds.
Neighboring Goddard lost six weeks in math and two weeks in reading. Tutoring costs are estimated to be about $3.3 million, and the district received $3.5 million in funds.
In western Kansas, Ulysses students lost six weeks in math and two weeks in reading. Tutoring costs are estimated to be about $1.9 million, and the district received $2.4 million in funds. Columbus lost eight weeks in math and six weeks in reading. Tutoring costs are estimated to be about $825,000, and the district received $1.6 million in funds.
Pittsburg students likewise lost eight weeks in math and six in reading. Tutoring costs are estimated to cost $3.1 million, and the district received about $7 million in ESSER III funds. Neighboring Frontenac also saw a loss of eight weeks in math and six in reading. Tutoring costs are estimated to be almost $900,000, and the district received $931,107 in funds.
School closures flew in the face of actual science
Studies show that the pandemic lockdowns were not necessary and were actually actively harmful to students.