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How state leaders can stand up for the Covid generation of high schoolers

CRPE director Robin Lake and Travis Pillow, Director of Thought Leadership for Step Up for Students (formerly a senior innovation fellow with CRPE), contributed an essay to this year’s edition of NASBE’s State Education Standard, “Engaging All Students.”

With billions of dollars in lost economic activity and untold squandered human potential, COVID-19 threatens to leave an enduring legacy. Especially at risk are students who have been least visible in the discourse about learning recovery and have the least amount of time to catch up: those currently enrolled in high school.

By one measure in an NWEA study, students who finished grade 8 during the 2022–23 school year faced a steeper climb to academic recovery than younger students. They would need an additional 7.4 months of learning in reading and 9.1 months in math to return to pre-pandemic achievement levels. That is a daunting amount of ground to make up in four years of high school, especially since the study found that older students had lost ground between fall 2022 and spring 2023.

It is not too late for state education leaders to highlight these students’ needs, restore opportunities the pandemic stole from them, and design a system that does right by future generations.

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