Trying to assure that the cure hasn’t been worse than the affliction, the Anderson Community Schools board is tackling the problem of “COVID slide” among its students.
ACS officials have met the affliction of coronavirus transmission with a cure of virtual education to keep students out of the classroom to avoid exposure to the disease.
While virtual education is a sensible measure during the current COVID-19 surge, the long-term impact on student progress could be profound. “COVID slide” refers to students falling behind academically because, for many, e-learning isn’t as effective as in-person classes.
Looking forward, the school board has assembled a committee to consider solutions, including the possibility of significant grade level retention to give students a year to catch up to state academic standards.
On the surface, it seems like the natural solution, assuming that ACS students can get back into classrooms full-time next year. But studies have shown that retention often does more harm than good.
Here’s a list of grade-level retention drawbacks cited by ThoughtCo.com, a reference site featuring content prepared by education experts:
• Eventual higher dropout rate
• Difficulty socializing
• Low self-esteem
• Complication of behavioral issues
• Parental resistance
Grade-level retention, however, can in some cases be the right answer, particularly for students who have fallen behind developmentally and need time to catch up.
In the case of possible extensive retention at ACS, presumably, students would be less likely to suffer some of the negative side effects, given that they would be staying at grade level with many others in their peer group rather than being singled out for individual failings.
The possibility of significant student retention as part of a formula to address COVID slide is well worth considering. Appointing a special committee to address the issue is a good first step.
Subsequent steps should seek extensive feedback from parents and ACS educators. Buy-in from stakeholders will key the school district’s attempts to find the right combination of cures for a difficult recovery from the coronavirus affliction.