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EWA​, the professional organization dedicated to ​strengthening the community of education ​writers and improving the ​quality of education coverage ​to better inform the public, hosts ​a weekly podcast featuring lively interviews with journalists.

Jan 26, 2021

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, states are largely leaving it up to individual districts to decide how to track how much -- or little -- of the standard school curriculum are K-12 students learning during the pandemic. One reporter surveyed her state and discovered that many communities aren’t even trying to find out. Joy Resmovits of The Seattle Times offers insights, tips, and questions to ask of state and local education officials when looking at student learning loss amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a new series, Resmovits asked districts in Washington state for data and found just a handful are even administering the academic screeners and diagnostic tests that would usually be given to students throughout the academic year to keep tabs on their progress. Like many other states, Washington is taking a hands-off approach to monitoring districts’ tracking of student achievement. What were the challenges this reporter encountered in obtaining and analyzing the available data on student performance? What surprised Resmovits about her findings on which students are most likely to have fallen behind? Why have so many districts hit the pause button on testing students, and what are the long-term implications of that decision moving forward? And what are some important precautions other reporters tackling this issue can take when weighing mid-pandemic testing data?