they are still children Most affected by the epidemicThose who were still learning to write their names and tie their shoes when schools closed in spring 2020.

Now, they’re big kids in elementary schools across America.many still need profound help Overcome the impact of the pandemic.

To catch up, the school deployed broad strategy.while some of them Incoming Fourth Grade Students, showing encouraging signs of growth. But as the generation progresses, many will need additional reading support that schools are not accustomed to providing to older pupils.

After the third grade, the number of teachers who know is decreasing year by year how to help students They lack critical foundational reading skills, said Elizabeth Albro, an executive with the Institute of Educational Sciences, an independent research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

Junior high school teacher Not wanting to teach kids how to read,” Albro said.

Across the country, students experience deep learning setbacks in reading and learning math During the epidemic. The third graders last year, the children who were in kindergarten when the epidemic broke out, lost more ground Children who read better than the older grades are slower to catch up.With federal pandemic relief funds, school systems Increased class timehire mentors, train teachers voice teaching and find other ways to provide Additional Support for Difficult Readers.

But even after several years of recovery, an NWEA analysis of last year’s test scores found that the average student still needs Equivalent to an additional 4.1 months Guidance on catching up with pre-pandemic reading levels.

One bright spot is incoming fourth-graders who are doing above-average grades and need about two months of additional reading instruction to catch up. Karyn Lewis, head of the Northwest Education Authority’s (NWEA) education policy research team, described them as “in slightly better shape”.

school system in Niagara Falls, New YorkMarcia Capone, the district’s assessment administrator, said she was seeing similar results. The district has hired more reading specialists, but Capone said it will take time to get struggling students up to speed.

“I don’t think it’s hopeless, but it’s not going to happen three years from now,” Capone said.

Here’s the problem for kids who haven’t mastered reading in third grade: In the later grades, learning becomes more difficult because reading becomes the foundation of everything else.

The school has extensive experience dealing with difficult seniors. Even before the pandemic, only about a third of fourth graders earned a proficient reading score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress known as the National Report Card.

But the pandemic has made things worse, especially for low-income students and kids of color.

So some schools target some seniors, ” reading scienceto promote the adoption of research-backed reading strategies based on phonics. Many of the new laws supporting phonics-based student.

In Virginia, for example, a law signed in March provides extra help for struggling readers through eighth grade. This is one of the most aggressive efforts to date.

“There is an implicit recognition that reading improvement requires addressing a wider range of grade levels, and that dyslexia does not necessarily end in third grade,” the authors of the Shank report wrote.

This will require a major shift. Historically, phonics and help decoding words faded away in the upper grades.

Miah Daughtery, who advocates for effective literacy instruction for the NWEA research group, says most English teachers at this level are no better prepared to teach students to read than their math teachers.

“They’re going to teach words,” she said. “They’re ready to teach literature, analyze ideas, craft, story structure, make connections.”

Federal pandemic relief funds to support academic recovery efforts at many schools will soon run out, making some experts less optimistic.

“We’re past the point where we could have a quick rebound,” said Dan Goldhaber of the American Institute.

Tonya Perry, vice-president of the National Council of Teachers of English, said teachers reported that reading materials required more time. Some school systems are moving to programs that break down grade-level topics into various reading levels, so strong and weak readers can still learn the concepts, she said.

“Now we have to spend more time laying the groundwork for what we’re asking our students to do,” she said.

At the beginning of the epidemic, some students repeat a grade. But this is only a short-term solution, one that is often taken reluctantly for fear of affecting a child’s social life and academic prospects. By last year, grade retention rates were trending down again.

One thing teachers can do, Dautrey said, is to rely less on silent reading in the classroom and instead do group work that pairs strong readers with weak readers.

NWEA’s Lewis said we should not think that children with COVID-19 are beyond treatment.

“The message has to be: We’re doing the right thing. We’re just not doing enough,” she said. “We need to step up and certainly not take our foot off the gas pedal very quickly.”

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Associated Press contributors Brooke Schultz (Harrisburg, PA), Carolyn Thompson (Buffalo, NY) and Bianca Vazquez Tornes (Boston) contributed to this report contributed.

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