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Answering Tough Questions About Pandemic’s Impact on Learning, In School and at Work

One aspect of our work focuses on helping employers rethink their approach to workplace learning, and helping schools and postsecondary institutions support workforce preparation. In all of these arenas, a question that keeps popping up is, how can we better understand those learners who are coming of age in the pandemic’s aftermath?

We have tools in our toolbox to address this question, but always appreciate the chance to look at the efforts taking place in other outstanding organizations. When it comes to tracking the impact of Covid on learning, we have noticed a lack of (good) available information. While the pandemic’s low hanging fruits are easy to identify (think, instructional time lost, perceptions of the effectiveness of online education) broader and longer term trends are more difficult to distill for at least a few reasons. First, not enough time has elapsed for information to be thoughtfully captured. Second, it’s also the case that data are difficult to connect across education and the workforce. Finally, a number of organizations have simply moved on from the pandemic to other areas, a natural occurrence.

There are a few collaborations and organizations that crystallized around the issue of pandemic learning + working and that exemplify the criteria we prioritize. Simply put,

  • they include strong partners with rich resources,
  • they pose questions that matter, and
  • their reporting jumps off the page it’s so good.

K-12: The Education Scorecard is poised to track the continued impact of learning loss, with particular regard to economic implications. A public-private partnership involving @HarvardCEPR, Stanford, and Georgetown Universities, Dartmouth College, the National Assessment Governing Board (@GovBoard), @AEI, @NWEA, and School Digger, the initiative enjoys funding from the @GatesFoundation, @CarnegieCorp, and @WallaceFdn.

Higher education: An IES-funded research network headed by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University (@CommunityCCRC) will take on describing promising “recovery strategies.” Particularly interesting to us is the team at the Virginia Community College System (@VCCS_SO), who will explicitly focus on workforce preparation in high demand fields (versus, say, enrollment and retention).

Workforce: Georgetown University’s Center on the Education and the Workforce (@GeorgetownCEW) pulled together a variety of resources focused on Covid-19’s impact, although they have not updated them since March 2021. Same thing with McKinsey & Company’s (@McKinsey) series on the future of work after Covid. Great information that might be updated at some point, but not yet. Looking globally, others at Georgetown University pulled together industry-specific insights about change in the workplace on behalf of the World Economic Forum. The infographic alone is worth a perusal.

It takes a village to answer the tough questions about the pandemic’s impact on learning. As long as learners of all ages grapple with gaps in their knowledge and skills, the efforts pursued in these organizations will remain relevant to schools, postsecondary institutions, and workplaces.

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