Young students in Virginia Beach are failing to strike key literacy guidelines. This has nearly doubled since the most recent data before the pandemic began.
Young Students are Suffering Due to Virtual Classes and More
Virtual classes and reduced instructional time have resulted in declines in literacy assessment. They have hindered the learning of many of the city’s youngest children. Those in particular are impacting low-income children in addition to children of color.
Because of the learning loss based on the data I’m looking at, I’m very concerned. That is the bottom line, said Virginia Beach Superintendent Aaron Spence.
Kindergarteners and first through third graders are given a Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening each Fall (PALS). This is to identify in part which children are at risk of being struggling readers. 14% of students in kindergarten through 2nd grade both in 2018 and 2019 in Virginia Beach failed to hit benchmarks. They need extra help.
This fall, that figure nearly doubled, rising to 26% of children.
Young Students: Africian-American Children are Severly at Risk
A 16 percentage point jump from the previous year, about 35% of Black students in kindergarten through the third grade failed to hit these benchmarks when tested this Fall.
In comparison, young white students saw an 11-point jump of those not hitting the benchmarks. That was up to 23% in 2020.
Low-Income Children Aren’t Making the Grade
Low-income children fall into the demographic group with the highest percentage of young students failing to meet the literacy benchmarks at 36%. This is an increase of 15 points from the past year. Different assessments show year-to-year drops that are much less severe for older age groups.
Pandemic, Shift to Online Learning
In fact, these problems aren’t specific to Virginia Beach. There are several national reports that show that the pandemic and the shift to online learning has been pointedly hard on young kids.
Even though, hampered by the pandemic, experts say young children’s ability to learn to read, there are what they call caveats in comparing the data from this year to last, according to officials. Anxiety and depression are both up due to the stress the pandemic has caused according to local experts. This might also be impacting children’s ability to learn.