When states shuttered public schools for in-person learning last March, almost no one imagined that some of them would remain closed for a full year or more. As time passed, concerns about a limited “learning loss” grew into worries about a “lost generation” of students. Projections of lost achievement were massive.
But when student performance data started trickling in during the fall, the results were not as terrible as many had envisioned. Yes, performance seemed to be dipping, especially for the most vulnerable, but the magnitude of the decline appeared smaller than the direst predictions.
As a result, some education scholars and activists decided they’d been too pessimistic. Now they began arguing that “there is no such thing as learning loss.” When the Biden administration called on states to actually test their students to gauge the impact of the pandemic, there was intense resistance to even measuring what the pandemic hath wrought.