College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

College of Education and Human Development

Focus on pandemic learning loss is wrong approach

September 26, 2022

In a recent media interview, Dr. Courtney K. Baker, Assistant Professor and Academic Program Coordinator of Mason’s Mathematics Specialist Leadership program in the College of Education and Human Development, cautioned that when determining how school closures and the shift to remote learning affected children during the last two years of the pandemic, the focus should not be on the loss of learning. Rather, recognition should be given to what students achieved during those two years and attention should be directed to their social and emotional needs.

Numerous reports and press articles have been written regarding the negative impacts on learning that have occurred due to disruptions in education caused by the pandemic as well as related concerns over the long-term effects on students in K-12 schools. Dr. Baker expressed her concern that placing the emphasis on learning loss is taking a “deficit” approach to measuring learning and academic success. She pointed out this could lead to increased reliance on the use of standardized assessments which may not be an accurate reflection of the learning that is taking place. Dr. Baker maintained that rather than focusing on learning loss, there should be an appreciation of the value students derived from their experiences during the pandemic and an acknowledgment of both their strengths and accomplishments during what was a very challenging period.

Dr. Baker also discussed the difficulties and trauma brought on by the pandemic and the need to focus less on a quick recovery. Instead, efforts should be devoted to the practice of social-emotional learning in helping students maximize their full potential. The interview with Dr. Baker was featured in an article appearing in the Fairfax County Times on September 9, 2022.