What is “learning loss”?

Learning loss is the term used for the phenomenon in which students lose the ability to retain what they have learned in the past. This can happen due to a number of different reasons, and the causes vary from natural disasters to social and emotional challenges.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters affect children in a variety of ways. They can impact academic performance, cognitive abilities, and even moodiness and depression. In addition, they can disrupt school facilities and interrupt educational opportunities.

Among the most vulnerable groups are children and the elderly. However, studies have found that despite the negative effects of natural disasters on these groups, education can actually help in reducing disaster vulnerability.

While the extent of losses will depend on the level of development and institutional arrangements, education can help reduce the risk of adverse impacts. Specifically, studies have shown that better educated communities and individuals can respond to disasters better than less educated individuals and societies. This means that highly educated communities can adapt to climatic changes more quickly and are likely to recover more quickly.

Low-quality teaching

Many children are not getting a good education and are missing out on a significant opportunity to learn valuable skills. This can affect health and well-being as well as earning potential later in life. However, learning losses are not evenly distributed. They disproportionately impact the most vulnerable.

Low-quality teaching is the most likely cause of this gap. Studies have found that disproportionately poor students are assigned to teachers who are less qualified. These inexperienced educators are less likely to know how to use teaching methods that could improve student learning. Furthermore, teachers without preparation are more likely to blame students for the quality of their education.

As evidenced by studies, teacher expertise is a powerful determinant of student learning. A study of 900 Texas school districts, for example, showed that teacher qualifications accounted for approximately 40% of the variance in student test scores.

Social and emotional challenges

The social and emotional challenges of learning loss have been well documented, and a recent study found that more than 77 percent of teachers have seen negative behavior changes among their pre-K to tweenage students. But what exactly does social and emotional learning entail, and how can schools and educators best leverage its benefits to improve student performance? Fortunately, there are a number of resources that can help. Regardless of the specific needs of each individual school or district, you should not have to choose between building a robust social-emotional curriculum or simply letting it lapse.

Social and emotional learning is not the be all and end all, but it’s certainly a worthy endeavor. Taking advantage of the latest research and technology, schools can provide students with the tools they need to achieve their full potential. As an example, Mindful Life Project, a program that provides teachers and administrators with tools to promote the social and emotional health of students, employees, and families, aims to help school districts transform themselves from the inside out.


With a learning loss pandemic affecting schools around the country, school districts are turning to tutoring programs to help struggling students get back on track. In addition to being a more effective method of helping struggling students, high-impact tutoring programs have also been shown to be consistently effective in increasing academic achievement.

Many large city school districts have invested a lot of federal funding in large-scale tutoring efforts. But, according to recent reports, many of these initiatives are lagging behind their peers, and many districts are still struggling to meet federal benchmarks for high-quality tutoring.

Reporters from The Detroit Free Press and Chalkbeat Detroit visited 16 districts in Michigan. They found that staffing and transportation issues hindered many districts from achieving high-quality tutoring.

State leaders have yet to provide the financial support and coordination needed to expand these efforts. However, early data shows that the tutoring trend is gaining momentum.

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