Report: NM college students misplaced as much as 60 days of research in the course of the pandemic

New Mexico students were already more than half a year behind before the pandemic, and COVID-19 caused them to lose another 10 to 60 days of study time, according to the latest progress report. It also shows a 6% decrease in grades in math and reading for students in New Mexico.

“Compared to before the pandemic, fewer students are now competent,” said Dr. Ryan Tolman, who helped conduct the study.

During the school year that ended 2019, the student population was 37%. This is evident from the comprehensive “Istation” e-learning program. In the last academic year, the students are at 31%.

Dr. Tolman said those numbers include only 88 districts and 22 charter schools across the state that used Istation in both years. Others have unsubscribed.

“We are finding that the districts are not using the resources available to them equally,” he said.

To avoid these learning gaps, the report recommends establishing extended learning time programs for all districts and charters. According to the report, 43 of the state’s 89 school districts have chosen not to participate in any type of extended school year. 14 reportedly have not developed any other plan to correct lost study time, despite being legally required to do so.

“Students may need several years of extended learning to make up for lost class time,” said Dr. Tolman.

He added that if a student lost 60 days, it would take six years of extended study time or just over two years of K-5 Plus to catch up. He also said the quality of learning suffered when students returned to school.

The Department of Public Education said it couldn’t get schools to extend their calendars to make up for lost study time. The progress report suggested that the PED should prescribe the extended learning program.

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