Remote learning during pandemic leaves students' literacy skills in question

Move On When Reading
Posted at 2:01 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 22:57:12-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Third graders are taking the "Move On When Reading" test this spring.

The pandemic caused widespread learning gaps, but what does that mean for struggling readers?

Could a larger number of students not advance to 4th grade?

RELATED: SUMMER SCHOOL: Details on how to sign up with local districts

The "Move On When Reading" test for third-graders is required by law. It's when they transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

Nationwide, a lot of students lost ground in literacy.

A Stanford study found reading skills among young students stalled during the pandemic, with 2nd and 3rd graders being among the most affected.

Fluency in reading is now about 30 percent behind what would be expected in a typical year.

In Sunnyside Unified School District, assessment tests show it might be less, but it's still alarming.

"We're seeing with those who actually took the assessment is we're seeing probably about a 20% drop in literacy scores, in third grade particularly," said Superintendent Steve Holmes.

He said a significant number of students didn't take the assessments while in remote mode and that's led to spotty data.

"We probably have about 20% of our student population that we have no data on," said Holmes.

Other Southern Arizona districts are reporting the same thing -- gaps in data.

Holmes said it's difficult to determine exactly how many 3rd graders are at risk of retention right now so that's creating quite a challenge.

"Summer school has always been an alternative intervention for students who may be subject to retention under Move On When Reading," said Holmes.

Holmes said the push for summer school is more important than ever before.

"We will particularly invite those students, calling, making phone calls, asking them to come into summer school. We're asking teachers for recommendations," said Literacy director Carmen Castro.

This gives 3rd graders more time to recover from any serious learning gaps before the final decision is made to retain them.