Strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of COVID Slide

By Eileen Belastock

Accelerating Student Learning to Close the Gaps: Strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of COVID Slide and Summer Learning Loss edWebinar recording link


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Lexia Learning’s Chief Learning Officer Dr. Liz Brooke’s steadfast determination to ensure students of all abilities can become successful readers and confident learners continues to be the driving force behind all of her work. According to Brooke in a recent edWebinar, during this time of remote and distance learning, “There have been various levels of implementation, fidelity, and various levels of learning happening.”

She points out that researchers, educators, and district administrators won’t have any empirical evidence until student assessments reveal learning gaps due to COVID slide and summer learning loss. However, predictably most, if not all, of our students have had some slides in their learning and will have gaps that they need to close. For some students, they had gaps even before this interruption, but for populations who are historically more susceptible to gaps, their needs are more urgent.

Flexible Implementation

Due to the uncertainty of what schools will look like over the summer or in the fall, school districts need instructional programs that have the flexibility to work in the classroom setting and easily transition to a remote situation. Programs that offer a blended approach with both online and teacher-led components may provide the most flexibility and most easily transition from the classroom to the cloud or remote environments. Research has shown that blended programs with teacher-led elements allow for continued connections and relationships between teacher and student.

Learning Gaps

There have been multiple studies to prove that the summer slide is a real thing. Based on evidence with both elementary and secondary school-aged students, summer slide can typically equate to one month of learning loss. Students from families classified as low socioeconomic status are often more impacted by that summer slide and have more significant learning gaps.

Accelerating Student Learning to Close the Gaps: Strategies to Mitigate the Impacts of COVID Slide and Summer Learning Loss edWebinar image


Why, What, and How

Effective and equitable instruction should meet each student’s needs and close the learning gap at the intersection of three essential components: Data/Students (Why), Content (What), and Delivery (How).

Understanding why it is taught focuses on data derived from assessments that maximize the data. Brooke emphasized that it is critical when reviewing programs and assessment tools to determine if the assessment elements can be given remotely, given to large groups of students, provide data quickly that is accessible to teachers and administrators remotely, and answer questions about risk, growth, and skill gaps.

Whatever programs school districts use and will use to close the learning gaps caused by the COVID slide should include rigorous content based on the science of reading. The most pivotal part, especially in intensifying learning and transitioning to remote education, should consist of structured literacy elements such as phonology, orthography, morphology, semantics, and syntax.

In a remote world, we’re focused on getting students the learning they need. One of the ways we can do this, if we don’t want to increase the time, is by how we do it. Using evidence-based interventions with positive outcomes should include fundamental principles including explicit (directly taught), systematic (logical order of skills and concepts), cumulative (new learning building on prior knowledge), and multisensory/multimodal (use of multiple sensors or modalities).

The last thing to consider regarding accelerating student learning during these unprecedented times is for schools and classroom teachers to partner with parents, guardians, and caregivers. Schools should set realistic expectations for families and provide activities and ideas that can be done with items readily available at home, that don’t necessarily involve screen time. 

This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by Lexia Learning.

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This article was modified and published by eSchool News.

About the Presenter

Dr. Liz Brooke is Lexia Learning’s Chief Learning Officer. In this role, she guides the pedagogical approach and research strategy for Lexia’s personalized literacy programs. Dr. Brooke joined Lexia from the Florida Center for Reading Research in 2010, where she served as the Director of Interventions. Prior to FCRR, she worked as a Speech and Language pathologist evaluating students with learning disabilities, a Title I reading instructor, and a first-grade classroom teacher. Dr. Brooke’s steadfast determination to ensure all children become successful readers and confident learners continues to be the driving force behind all of her work.

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Online Learning and Collaboration is a free professional learning community on that provides educators at all levels with a place to connect, collaborate, and share examples and practices for working virtually with peers and with students, and for using digital learning materials.

Lexia LearningLexia Learning, A Rosetta Stone Company, is one of the best-known and most highly respected reading-technology companies in the world. Lexia’s instructional programs (Core5 and PowerUp) help to accelerate literacy skill development through explicit and systematic personalized learning paths, and Lexia’s assessment program (RAPID) uniquely screens key reading and language skills critical to comprehension for all students in grades K–12.


Eileen Belastock, CETL is the Director of Technology and Information for Nauset Public Schools, MA, and also works with to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenBelastock.