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Ball State study: "absolutely, without a doubt" pandemic contributed to students' learning loss

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 20:51:54-05

MUNCIE — Virtual and remote learning have become common terms during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now a new study from Ball State University is looking at the learning loss that occurred.

The study by Drs. Michael Hicks and Dagney Faulk of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) looked at Indiana Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network (ILEARN) test scores from Spring 2019 to Spring 2021. That test is taken by students in grades 3-8.

Hicks, who is CBER's director, says "absolutely, no doubt" there was "substantial" learning loss was a consequence of the pandemic for the vast majority of schools.

Research found that poverty, which was measured by the share of students eligible for free and reduced lunch, was the single strongest correlate of COVID-19-related learning loss during the 2020-21 school year.

"Most of the learning loss in Indiana was attributable to ... poor families within school corporations," Dr. Hicks, CBER's director, said. "It's a plausible explanation that the lack of broadband in these communities, the lack of take-home technology played a significant role in the inability of students to connect continuously over that time period with their teachers."

Data released in November 2021 showed nearly one in five Hoosier third graders did not achieve reading proficiency on a recent assessment.

The study concluded various modes of instruction—whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid—did not play a significant role in learning loss during the 2020-21 school year.

"I think that's important for school boards today who are wrestling with 'do we close next week because of COVID or go to hybrid?'" Hicks said. "Our interpretation of these results is that the school boards in Indiana were doing a pretty good job making trade offs between learning loss and disease prevention."

To read the study, click here.