For schoolchildren struggling to read, COVID-19 has been a wrecking ball

Sarah Carr:

Kids in need of remedial support already were vulnerable before the pandemic. Now they’re facing educational ruin.

By Sarah Carr Globe Staff,Updated January 19, 2021, 9:32 a.m.

Over the past six months, I interviewed 15 families with struggling readers between the ages of 7 and 12 to better understand the impact of school closures on children’s ability to learn to read. The families come from a range of racial groups and income levels; some parents are unemployed or incarcerated, while others earn six-figure salaries. The families’ children attend traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools. They live in Boston, Worcester, Athol (in Central Massachusetts, with a median household income of $50,000), and suburban communities including Arlington and Winchester (where the median household incomes are $117,000 and $160,000, respectively). Despite their different circumstances and backgrounds, all of these families desperately needed the education system to work during the pandemic so their children could master reading before starting middle school. Instead, they ran into the harsh truth that literacy is not always treated as the public good it should be.

As the one-year anniversary of mass school closures approaches, the question of how to make up for lost time becomes increasingly urgent. Loeb, of the Annenberg Institute at Brown, says many districts are overwhelmed by the logistics of reopening schools, and desperately require help shoring up their academic offerings. To help increase tutoring access, Annenberg created the National Student Support Accelerator, which will pilot tutoring projects this winter in about nine school districts across the country, including in Providence. The districts were allowed to choose the kind of tutoring that would be most useful, according to Loeb, with nearly all selecting reading support for kindergartners through third-graders, or math tutoring for older students. Annenberg’s aim is to make the tutoring available to any student who needs additional academic help. Yet for the foreseeable future, most struggling readers will only have access to what their families can pay for. Or negotiate from school districts. And wrangling services out of districts is a challenge even for a stay-at-home parent with experience battling bureaucracies, such as Medford’s Maureen Ronayne.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration