K-12 COVID Conveyor Belt

Juan Perez, Jr.

COVID ‘CONVEYOR BELT’ — A generation of U.S. kids is in the midst of what educators worry will amount to a largely lost school year. Will they be ready for the next grade?

Hundreds of thousands of children continue to catch the coronavirus each month, complicating plans to return to in-person instruction throughout the country. Education officials are starting to think long-term about how to fill that learning gap in the years to come, weighing the consequences of social promotion against the effects of holding back students, and questioning norms for testing and grades in this anything-but-normal learning environment.

— “What are we going to do for these kids that have lost so much learning?” asks Michael Petrilli, president of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute education think tank. “The path of least resistance here, and probably what most schools will do unless they’re encouraged to do something else, is just pass kids on and keep the conveyor belt moving.”

— Petrilli is calling for states and schools to rethink kindergarten. Mississippi’s education chief is pushing schools to speed up children’s learning. New York is revamping its testing plans for high schoolers this year.

Related: Frederick Taylor & K-12 schools.