Summer slide greater concern for fall 2020 semester

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 7:54 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Summer slide is a concern for teachers each August. Educators identify where the students are coming back from summer break and identify content that those students forgot. This fall, teachers are working to catch kids up after nearly six months out of the classroom.

Aaron Rife is an associate professor in the education program at Wichita State University. He says the first two weeks of school are typically dedicated to getting students up to speed and reviewing things they should have held on to from the previous year. Some of that content is a baseline for what the students are going to learn in the current semester. 

Rife says teachers cannot assume that students learned new material when schools closed in March. Districts utilized online resources and video meetings, but Rife says not all students had access to that level of instruction. He expects students to return this fall at varying levels, because teachers did not have a way to closely track students' progress at the end of the year.

"Wichita 259 sent out paper packets. that was their alleviation, their attempt to deal with the situation, but you can't force someone to do the paper packet when they get home. It became a lot more complicated," Rife says.

Rife says school districts spend the summer figuring out how to have meaningful instruction in in-person classes, through a hybrid model, and online.

He expects this fall to be better than the spring, but he does remind parents that this is a new concept for K-12 education.

Remote learning has advantages during a pandemic, but Rife says it makes it harder to monitor the well-being of the child.

Rife says as mandatory reporters, teachers are looking out for signs of child abuse or neglect. Schools also provide nutrition services for children. Teachers know that kids get lunch and possibly also breakfast. With students at home, teachers do not know if kids have access to food.

"At's the social-emotional, it's the well being of kids and all of that is made a lot more difficult by keeping kids at home," Rife says.

Teachers also work the first few weeks to acclimate kids to the new classroom and new rules. This year, teachers are also responsible for teaching and enforcing new standards for masks, social distancing, and health standards.

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