Assigning and assessing students’ challenges amid broader pandemic pressures

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Dive Brief:

  • Given the shift to distance learning in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the kind of feedback students may need to ensure they’re understanding lessons has changed along with the assessments educators typically give, Andrew Miller, director of personalized learning at the Singapore American School, writes for Edutopia.
  • Miller suggests a number of ways to support students, from video feedback in asynchronous environments to private chats if synchronous options are available. Educators may consider holding individual sessions with students to close the distance and provide personal attention, even on issues like emotional needs, which falls outside their academic work.
  • Assessments are still helpful to determine what is or isn’t working in the remote environment, so educators can also retool and ensure students get the support needed.

Dive Insight:

As student learning shifts from the classroom to the home amid prolonged shutdowns, educators are treading the balance between the kind of work they can assign, as well as how much. Students have more time, with their commute now nonexistent and activities canceled, but there are other issues that impact the work they’re capable of completing.

While there are legitimate concerns students may fall behind academically, as recent data from nonprofit assessment provider NWEA shows, not every child is going to be able to handle remote learning environments the same. For example, some don’t have access to devices or even online connections. That’s a reality some educators are addressing by choosing to assign work via smartphones, for example —​ but even that access might not be a guarantee.

And while educators are keenly focused on helping students stay up to date with their learning in this rapidly evolving environment, families may not be able to provide the additional support their children need right now. Parents are juggling their own demands, having to manage, and hopefully maintain, jobs while working from home. Others are facing overwhelming stress from being furloughed or laid off, and children are likely aware of these pressures on their parents as well.

That may mean educators pushing assessments and even lessons to the back seat while prioritizing other needs, like ensuring students have basic essentials like meals everyday. It may require allowing this time to be what it is, a moment unprecedented during our lifetimes.

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