The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a supplemental report on pandemic learning for U.S. students, which details the watchdog agency’s objectives, scope, and methodology for its report released last month, Pandemic Learning: As Students Struggle to Learn, Teachers Reported Few Strategies as Particularly Helpful to Mitigate Learning Loss.

The original report released in May produced a sobering conclusion: while the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of students to have their education disrupted during the 2020-2021 school year, teachers have since reported finding limited strategies that could be helpful in mitigating learning loss.

That report based on a survey of K-12 public school teachers across the U.S. found:

  • 60 percent of virtual learning teachers said their students had more difficulty understanding lessons;
  • 61 percent of all teachers had more students who experienced emotional distress;
  • 85 percent of in-person teachers said live instruction – either fully or partially in-person – helped students; and
  • Fewer than 40 percent of teachers thought asynchronous learning helped a majority of their students.

GAO’s supplemental report issued this week explains some of the methodologies of those findings. Among them:

  • GAO conducted a survey of elementary and secondary public-school teachers between June 18 and July 9, 2021. It also held 18 virtual discussion groups in total, including six groups of public school teachers; six of parents of students; and six groups of principals between June 29 and July 14, 2021.
  • The survey was initiated to ask teachers about “instructional models, adult support provided to students learning in a virtual environment, difficulties students faced when learning, their students’ academic progress, strategies used to mitigate learning loss, students who never showed up for class, and students who became disengaged.”

The supplement also contains technical details or survey and discussion group methodologies. GAO said it plans to additional reports this spring on pandemic learning issues.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.