MDRC in the News

The Dangers of ‘Long COVID Learning Loss’ and How to Fix It

Commentary by Monica Bhatt, Jens Ludwig, and Jean Grossman



As we continue to navigate a once-in-a-century pandemic, attention is shifting to the long-term health impacts of COVID-19—what health professionals call “long COVID.” But as recent devastating student test score results made clear, we’re missing a similar phenomenon playing out in classrooms across the country. School closures may be behind us, but our nation’s students are at risk of struggling for years with lasting after-effects of the pandemic—what some of our fellow education researchers have termed “long COVID learning loss.”…..

…..Thankfully, unlike the ongoing health puzzle of long COVID, we do know how to address learning loss. It is possible to rapidly accelerate student learning by borrowing an idea that dates to at least the 15th century at Oxford University: tutoring…..

…..The challenge the country needs to solve is not pedagogical but rather economic. How do we take the power of Oxford-style tutoring and scale it at a price point U.S. public schools can afford?…..

…..We need a crash research and development (R&D) program to figure out how to dramatically increase the scale of tutoring’s benefits. Our University of Chicago Education Lab team is partnering with MDRC and school districts across America on a massive R&D initiative; we hope many others join the cause as well…..

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