Ontario students are up to 3 months behind in their learning due to COVID-19 lockdowns: Science Table
By Chris Herhalt Web Content Writer, CP24 Published Tuesday, June 8, 2021 9:46AM
TORONTO -- Ontario public school students are likely two to three months behind in their learning because of school closures brought on by COVID-19, leading to life-long losses in their expected earnings as adults if efforts aren’t made to bring them up to speed, says a new analysis by the COVID-19 Science Table.
Citing research from the U.S., Holland and the UK, epidemiologists advising the Ontario government say that pupils are anywhere from 1.6 to 3.3 months behind where they would have been academically if in-person learning was not shut because of COVID-19 starting last March.
“While there are numerous differences in how studies measure the impact of COVID-19-related disruptions on learning (i.e., standard deviations, months behind, scaled points behind, percentages of students not at grade level), most point to average achievement that was well behind that of earlier cohorts, measured at the same point in preceding school year(s),” authors wrote in a brief published on Monday.
The authors found that virtual learning led to increased absenteeism, unexplained declines in overall school enrolment and sustained declines in the amount of time pupils report devoting to completing homework. The learning gaps are less pronounced at younger grades but increase among older students.
The impact of the declines, called skill loss, unaddressed, could cost the Canadian economy for decades.
“Each month of skill loss is predicted to cause a one per cent drop in lifetime earnings for affected cohorts and is estimated to decrease the national income by 0.5 percent per year, which would translate to a GDP loss for Canada of 1.6 trillion,” authors wrote in the brief.
As of May 15, Ontario elementary and secondary schools were for 20 weeks, the longest of any school system in Canada, with the length of that closure set to extend to 26 weeks by the end of June.
Last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said schools would not resume in-person instruction in June, as their in-person operations could increase COVID-19 transmission, spread of the new Delta variant, and jeopardize plans to reopen the rest of the economy.
The decision also signalled a reversal from claims made often earlier in the year by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, who said schools were not a significant source of COVID-19 transmission and merely amplified spread of the virus already circulating in the community.
The Science Advisory Table says there is a need for additional education funding in the 2021-2022 school year to address and perhaps erase the skill gap caused by online learning. “There is a need for explicit education recovery strategies to be funded in addition to regular schooling budgets. Strategies may include active measures to ensure appropriate universal responses (overall curriculum adaptations, instruction, and student supports), and targeted intensive accelerated learning programs for groups that have been most disadvantaged by health and education effects of COVID-19.”
A ministry of education official said the province plans to spend $85.5 million this school year on targeted efforts to bring students’ reading, writing and numeracy back on track, as well as $62 million for summer school. The province will also continue to offer virtual tutoring through the TVO platform.
“We just announced the largest investment in public education in Ontario history — in addition to a $1.6 billion plan to protect the safety of children and a $85 million plan to help them recover from learning loss with a focus on mental health, math and reading supports,” Ministry of Education spokesperson Caitlin Clark told CP24. “It also includes the largest summer learning program in Ontario history and includes access to tutors — including math educators — for children in both English and French.”
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Parents, experts worry about "snowball effect'" of literacy, development lags amid pandemic schooling
75% of kids who don't overcome reading lag by Grade 3 continue struggling through school life: literacy expert Jessica Wong · CBC News · Posted: May 09, 2021 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: May 9
Article quote: "Teachers can't see which children are struggling if they're not in the same room."
Alarm bells are ringing for some worried parents and educational experts about how pandemic-disrupted schooling is affecting this generation of students, particularly the development of Canada's youngest learners.
Jon Bahen finds the more people in his work-from-home Zoom meetings, the less effective they can be. Imagine then how difficult it is for a child struggling with school to vie for attention in an online class alongside nearly 30 others, said the Barrie, Ont., parent.
When they received November's report card, Bahen and his wife Rina D'Angelo were shocked to learn that their shy seven-year-old son Connor is a full year behind in his reading and writing. The couple also juggles a daughter in junior kindergarten and an eight-month-old baby, but they regularly sit alongside Connor during his once-again online classes. They read with their second-grader every day and are now hiring a tutor to help him catch up.
"His reading and writing have definitely suffered with just the inconsistent education of going back and forth and from in-person to online," said D'Angelo. She's noticed it affects everything from solving math problems to being able to independently complete assignments.
"It's just a snowball effect that will affect everything else he needs to learn," she said. "Everyone is doing their best, yet kids are falling behind."
School during the pandemic has looked different depending on region, but many students have experienced disorienting shifts between virtual and in-person learning due to school closures. For worried parents, education researchers and developmental experts, alarm bells are ringing about how all the disruption is affecting this generation of students, particularly Canada's youngest learners.
Researchers detecting delaysAn ongoing U.K. project is examining four- and five-year-olds who started school last September. In its initial findings, 76 per cent of the participating schools reported they have needed more support than the kindergartners who started in previous years, primarily with communication and language development, personal, social and emotional development, and literacy.
Wearing masks during the pandemic has created a unique set of challenges for kids including recognizing other people, reading emotions and learning to talk. But researchers say there are simple things adults can do to help them out. 5:59Here in Canada, education researcher George Georgiou has already detected reading deficits among primary-aged students in Alberta. After conducting testing in schools around Edmonton last fall, he discovered that students in Grades 1 through 3 were reading at about eight to 12 months below their grade levels
Georgiou, a professor of education at the University of Alberta, is now working with the provincial education ministry to expand his voluntary testing program provincewide to quickly identify reading struggles and provide schools with resources and intensive strategies to bring affected students up to speed.
"We know that about 75 per cent of the children who do not overcome their reading difficulties by the end of Grade 3, they continue to struggle throughout their school life," said Georgiou, director of the university's J.P. Das Centre on Developmental and Learning Disabilities.
"It's in our best interest to support these kids, identify them as soon as possible and provide them with intensive intervention so that they overcome their early reading difficulties."
In Alberta school divisions that directly intervened with struggling readers last fall and winter, 'about 80 per cent of their students were able to catch up,' said George Georgiou, an Edmonton-based education professor. (Samuel Martin/CBC)School divisions that directly intervened with struggling readers last fall and winter helped about 80 per cent of students catch up.
"If we scale this up across Alberta… we are hopeful that this will help all the kids who are in need," he said
One major wrinkle is online schooling, which Alberta said this week it's returning to for at least two weeks province-wide. In his recent work, Georgiou found that kids learning online have been more affected by reading difficulties than those learning in person, with students who already struggled before COVID-19 at the greatest disadvantage.
While online intervention programs can help struggling readers improve somewhat, Georgiou said that studies show they are not as effective as face-to-face instruction.
Some skills 'harder to pick up later' Disruptions to schooling can also delay detection of new developmental concerns or affect educational staff's ability to deliver school-based treatment for students with pre-existing diagnoses or concerns.
The whole system of monitoring development of young children has been affected by the pandemic, says Dr. Ripudaman Minhas, a developmental pediatrician at St. Michael's Hospital and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Toronto.
'When families are stressed, it changes the dynamics' at home, says pediatrician 4 days ago
Pandemic stress can be passed on to children and teens, affecting their development and ability to pick up skills, says developmental pediatrician Ripudaman Minhas. 1:33"This has impacted across the whole pathway for families, from identification of a child who may be struggling… all the way to difficulties with getting referred in," he said.
"Our capacities within clinics have slowed down as well, which has made our wait list swell up."
Children's resilience gives researcher hopeThis is a concern because children's brains are primed to learn many skills at specific, critical periods of development, Minhas said. "We know that when the acquisition of those skills — and the experiences that add to that — are delayed, that they're harder to pick up later."
"There is a worry about this wave that's going to come through the system that was already strained as it was," Minhas said.
Children's brains primed to learn many skills at very specific, critical periods of development. 'We know that when the acquisition of those skills — and the experiences that add to that — are delayed, that they're harder to pick up later,' said developmental pediatrician Dr. Ripudaman Minhas. (Steve Bruce/CBC)Some supports in place to help students recoverRe-engaging and supporting students, including their mental health, as well as paying attention to catching the youngest students up on reading and math are on the radar for several education ministries that announced budget plans for the next school year.
Ontario said it will devote funding to learning recovery, while Quebec introduced a "school success" plan that includes extending a tutoring program targeting students who've fallen behind.
Parent Rina D'Angelo said getting students back into a physical classroom is vital.
"Get teachers vaccinated, implement smaller class sizes or [buy] PPE — whatever needs to be done to ensure that these children's education isn't disrupted," she said.
"Teachers can't see which children are struggling if they're not in the same room."
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Title: Students Swim or Sink with Autonomous Learning
Due to COVID 19, autonomous learning online is much more prevalent nowadays than at any other time in history. This means that students in Elementary, High School and enrolled in University are studying autonomously online in greater numbers than ever before. Understandably, with the fear of catching COVID-19, families are opting to self-study online in the safety of home.
This blog attempts to shed light on a few of the challenges that I have noticed with K-12 students that decide to study at home online and as a result select autonomous learning as their preferred method, mode and medium of learning.
Learning Autonomously Online for K-12 Students
With the online learning that is being employed widely across Canada today, we can increasingly see our children and K-12 students fully engaged in autonomous learning. Parents with school aged children (5-17) in particular know first-hand the stress of following up with ONLINE school assignments whilst juggling a family, job and economic pressures of every adult life.
I may be wrong and often am but I believe we can easily make the observation that Online learning forces students into modalities of autonomous learning that the vast majority of school students are NOT prepared for. Allow me to acknowledge from the outset that perhaps 20-30% of students in K-12 online learning across Ontario actually are prepared and succeed autonomously in online school environments.
More shocking however is that this means 70-80% of K-12 student population face minor to significant challenges with autonomous online learning or virtual schooling. It seems incredible to me that we would expect any student in GRADES K-10 to have the ability to learn and study independently like an adult University student and not face overwhelming challenges with learning.
Yes some children can learn to swim by being thrown in the deep end of the swimming pool (20%), however the vast majority drown (80%) because they have not been taught how to swim and do not have the ability to autonomously teach themselves. Personally, I would never allow my kids to watch Youtube and then expect them to swim in the middle of Lake Simcoe in Barrie, no matter how many hours of video they had watched.
To be clear, the critical issue I am pointing out here IS NOT about online learning. Rather the entire focus of this blog is designed to question how prepared / equipped K-12 students are to learn autonomously ---- by ---- oneself ---- without guidance of an expert teacher.
In my view for students to be successful in studying by oneself (forget online learning), they need to have well developed and established the following demonstrable skills:
Thinking of my 6 year old twins, they have only One or Two of these attributes while my 9 year old has more because he has received one-one tutoring since 2019.
Furthermore, parents can also take a proactive role to measure / evaluate your child’s academic skills at home. Have your child try to do any math (without a calculator) or write an essay in English at home. You’ll soon see the idea above I am talking about not as an abstract idea or concept in a blog, but as a lived reality.
Tutoring In person and online
Remember, Online Learning is NOT the problem highlighted by this blog. Rather the problem that K-12 students face everyday with Online learning, the 1000 pound elephant in the room, is the ability to study autonomously and learn effectively. In this brave new world of Online learning, the essential skill is the ability to study by oneself.
As the owners of Aardvark Learning Academy, we see students, parents and families that want their child to succeed wildly. These families already understand that Expert Teaching is the royal road for their child to unlock their future potential, learn the study strategies they need to be successful at school and in life.
The motto at Aardvark Learning Academy is simple: Expert Teachers Teach: Aardvark Students Learn. It does not matter if the medium is online or in person. The magic of tutoring really happens when we get students that work hard, apply themselves and become determined to succeed under the guidance of an expert teacher. This is where both teacher and student shine.
Experience in life matters as you are more prepared to meet the next challenge. Give your child the A+ advantage by learning how to study and enjoy the learning process at Aardvark Learning Academy.
 Definitions may differ
 Its not about computer skills its about study skills = autonomous learning.
Task 2 Question: Do you agree OR disagree that online piracy should be illegal? Give reasons and details for your answer.
The Canadian government should regulate the illegal download of music and movies, as it is keeping artists from getting paid, it is impacting the way audiences consume art, and it is hurting the creative process of the artistic society.
In social forums like Facebook, istagram, reddit it is often argued that entertainment piracy is good for the industry, since it can help broaden the reach of these expressions and expand the fanbase of artists. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the practice of illegal downloading of music and movies has a deep impact in the creator’s personal economy and ability to finance future creative endeavours. Therefore, reproductions and free downloads, from illegal ONLINE sources do not generate any kind of income for the artist. And this affects not just those involved in the creative process, but also all of those people involved the distribution industry economy (cinemas, music stores, art galleries).
In an interview back in 2015, René from the Puerto Rican band Calle 13 stated that thanks to piracy, his songs had reached faraway places that could not be reached by any other type of media (GREAT example). However, it has been discovered that the quality in which these songs arrived to those remote locations was very low, and people were not really enjoying his creation, but a very low-resolution version of them. The same can ALSO be said about movies and tv shows. Studios give their very best to create high quality video and audio that gets ripped apart by online pirates when they compress the files in order to be able to reproduce them. The illegal downloading of music and video ends up hurting the consumer, who is not receiving the piece how the artist intended, thus it will not be as enjoyable.
Furthermore, piracy is having a large impact in the way artists are expressing themselves. A survey made last year by Statistic Canada showed that 80% of artists are worried about creating really great pieces (songs, movies, paintings) that demand a lot of their time and spirit, only to have it illegally reproduced online without any type of economic retribution. The same survey stated that half of that 80% was seriously considering halting all big projects and just focusing on “easy” stuff, while more serious regulations come along. Great.
Though controlling illegal downloads in the internet era can be complicated, the Canadian government must find a way to do it if it does not want to keep hurting artists, distributors, and consumers. However, it should not just be a government regulation, but a shared task with the audience and SOCIETY. Downloading an illegal song or movie is a conscious act, and most people are not aware of the consequences. If the public knew how a little click can affect hundreds of lives in the mainstream economy, it would change their social acceptance of online piracy.
By ending Piracy, Canadians can ensure that artist in music, movies and theatre can continue to enrich society for the betterment of everyone.
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