The phrase “learning loss” has become as widespread as “you’re on mute” in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Commentators, politicians, parents, research firms, educational technology organizations and policymakers have decried how remote and hybrid learning during the pandemic caused students to fall further and further behind educationally.
These same individuals and organizations have promoted “solutions,” such as getting students back in school as fast as possible, extending summer school, increasing the amount of time spent in school during the year and relying on parents to expand learning opportunities. Even President Biden’s American Rescue Plan earmarked funding for summer enrichment and after-school programs to aid learning recovery. Many of these solutions are not only lacking in evidence, but also they leave out the most important influence on student learning—the teacher.