As the world grappled with the devastating impact of the pandemic, the education sector faced an unprecedented challenge. The National Assessment of Educational Progress delivered a sobering blow: 20 years' worth of educational progress erased in just 24 months. Perhaps most alarming was the pandemic learning loss, particularly the steep decline in reading scores among nine-year-old students – the sharpest drop since the 1980s.
Reading is a transformative skill, one that shapes the trajectory of a child's life. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has highlighted that the ability to read is the cornerstone of a happy, productive and successful life.
In response to the pandemic learning loss, educators and policymakers across the nation have called for intensive reading intervention programs. Strategies like tutoring, after-school programs, summer school initiatives and extended class time have been rolled out in schools and homes to bridge the learning gap.
While these efforts are crucial, it's essential to recognise that not all children learn the same way. After enduring two years of lockdowns and facing interruptions, the expectation on children to sit for extended periods of study may not resonate well with some, especially those who were already struggling before the pandemic.
Moreover, the pandemic learning loss resulted in the erasure of two decades of educational progress – an emergency of unprecedented proportions. To address this crisis effectively, we must reimagine how children learn and instil in them a genuine passion for learning, ensuring that every child has the opportunity not just to recover from pandemic learning loss, but to excel.
In this context, technology emerges as a powerful ally in filling the urgent gaps created by pandemic learning loss. Game-based learning apps, grounded in research, have the unique ability to captivate students’ attention, spark their interest and reward them for their progress. It’s a refreshing alternative to traditional study methods, allowing children to do what they do best – play.
An independent study conducted during the pandemic revealed a promising trend: the more students engaged with our research-based learning app, the more their reading skills improved.
Amid the 2020 school closures due to the pandemic, researchers closely observed students using ABC Reading Eggs. The multi-award winning program employs individualised lessons, games and books to nurture children’s reading skills, rewarding them with golden eggs upon completing various activities.
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The case study was conducted in a North Carolina school with 500 students. The student population was diverse, with minorities comprising roughly half and nearly half of all students qualifying for free or discounted lunches.
When the school shut during the pandemic in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19, Kindergarten and Grade 1 students were tasked with completing daily reading and writing activities remotely.
Remarkably, 84 Kindergarten students, spending an average of 26 minutes per week (just over 5 minutes per school day) using ABC Reading Eggs at home, made substantial progress. Instead of regressing due to remote learning, these students progressed by a remarkable 1.11 grade levels during the school year.
Nearly all of these Kindergarten students started the year at grade level, and by the end of the year, over half were working above grade level. Students who dedicated more time (30 minutes per week) progressed even further, advancing by 1.79 grade levels over the year.
Similar trends were observed among the 96 first graders in the case study. With 80% of them starting the year below grade level, by the year’s end, nearly 80% were working at or above grade level, thanks to spending 29 minutes per week on ABC Reading Eggs. These students progressed by 1.18 grade levels over the year.
Intriguingly, the 40 Grade 1 students who devoted more than 30 minutes each week to the program achieved even more significant growth, progressing by an impressive 1.56 grade level during the year.
This case study illuminated a crucial point: not only did students avoid substantial pandemic learning loss during this period, but the technology they used at home also helped them surpass their initial grade level. These results stand in stark contrast to the national findings, which indicated years of learning loss.
Discover how ABC Reading Eggs can transform your child's learning journey. Foster their success with captivating reading games, enjoyable literacy activities, and a library boasting over 3,500 books!
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Extensive, long-term research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of well-designed, game-based learning apps, in mitigating pandemic-induced learning loss. However, the urgency for immediate action to address this issue cannot be overstated.
Educators, schools and policymakers face the task of re-evaluating educational approaches in the digital age, aiming to seamlessly integrate technology alongside traditional intervention methods. By maintaining student engagement and motivation and celebrating their progress, we have the potential to empower them on a path toward confident and lifelong learning.
Read about another study that demonstrates how students improved using ABC Reading Eggs HERE.