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Ed Program Helps WA Kids Falling Behind from School Disruptions


Wednesday, May 4, 2022   

School disruptions from the pandemic have threatened to leave Washington students behind, but there are efforts to ensure they stay on track.

The state of Washington saw the second-most disruptions to school days in the past year, with 96% of parents reporting changes such as in-class cancellations. Also, there's been a 14% drop in kindergarten enrollment.

Will Dittmar, western region managing director for the nonprofit Save the Children, said the consequences of learning loss are even greater in rural Washington. That's why his organization focused on education programming for elementary-school children there.

"Children in our literacy programs are not only meeting reading expectations during the pandemic, but progressing one month ahead of expectations on average," he said, "and that progress is based on expected growth in a non-pandemic-disrupted school year."

Dittmar said Save the Children partnered with five schools across three counties to reach 500 kids in the state, helping them after school and during the summer. It also had in-school literacy programs to help those who had fallen the furthest behind.

Shane Garver, head of education, hunger and resilience for Save the Children, said recent research has shown that kids are four to five months behind in reading and math skills because of the pandemic.

"When you look at students from minority communities, they're up to six months behind, and those coming from poverty, it's up to seven months behind," he said. "So, the learning loss has been stark."

Dittmar added that there's still a lot of work to do to ensure kids have the tools they need to succeed.

"We all recognize," he said, "that it is critically important to help these students that were so negatively impacted by decisions and realities that were out of their control or their parent's control, or the school district's control."

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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