Minnesota students at lower risk for learning loss than other states, but disparities persist, report says

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    Minnesota students are at a “medium” risk of losing academic progress due to the pandemic,  according to a recent report that examined the potential for learning loss in every state.

    Minnesota was one of 20 states listed as medium risk in the report from Education Week, which  examined internet and computer availability, family support and student-teacher interactions during distance learning. In 20 other states, students are at a higher or much higher risk of learning loss.

    Although Minnesota’s students may be less vulnerable to learning loss than students in other states, the report still identified gaps in access to technology and homework help based on families’ educational levels. Minnesota students whose parents graduated from college were more likely to have home internet, computers or tablets and family help on assignments than students whose parents don’t have a college degree.

    The report adds to the growing body of research suggesting that school closures due to the pandemic this spring may have harmed student learning, especially for low-income students and students of color. One estimate suggests that the average student may have lost seven months of learning by the end of 2020, and that low-income students may have lost nearly a full year. 

    Achievement and opportunity gaps could worsen as a result, experts say, a pressing concern in Minnesota where the state’s racial disparities in education are already among the nation’s worst.

    Rilyn Eischens
    Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.