The pandemic has proven difficult on so many levels for Albertans. One area of concern is education and the loss of learning children experienced with school closures, curriculum changes and interruptions.
“I have three kids and I do feel that they did have a loss of learning,” said Michelle Henderson, a mother of three. “I feel like it was so last minute when everything went online that the teachers didn’t have time to prepare and the students didn’t have time to adjust to a new schedule.”
Henderson says she’s noticed the most change with her youngest.
“I do notice a difference in her reading, especially for little things like sight words and sounding things out and the lack of engagement as well.”
Henderson’s experience is aligned with the findings from a study conducted by schools and Alberta Education to determine which grade levels needed the most help.
“Data we had collected from schools in Alberta in September 2020 (showed) that kids in Grade 1-3 are the ones that have been most impacted by the school closures,” George Georgiou, professor of educational psychology at the University of Alberta, said.
To help those students get back on track, the Alberta government has launched a new voluntary in-school program with the help of Dr. Georgiou.
“This is a literacy program because we know that reading is the basis of the development and the acquisition of other skills as well,” Georgiou said.
He added students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will first take an assessment test to determine their reading levels, and based on their profiles, educators will be given tools to get them up to speed.
“If children have the exact same profile they can be grouped together and be given the same type of instruction to be able to perform better. ” Georgiou said.
Is a press conference Thursday, NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said more that 20,000 students are expected to return to in-class learning over the next year and supports will be needed.
“We’re going to have more than 300 fewer teachers than we had before COVID in this budget, were going to have 1,800 less non-certified staff,” Hoffman said.
The cost the of the literacy program is $100,000.
Although details on the rollout are yet to be released Henderson said she would like to see her daughter take part.
“I think that was a concern for a lot of parents — ‘Is my kid missing all of these things, are they ever going to be caught up?'” Henderson said.
Georgiou said he hopes to have the assessment materials out to school in the next two weeks and have test results by April.