The Hidden Impact of The COVID-19 Education Gap on Science and STEM
The United States is already behind other developed countries, with California in the bottom, on the National Assessment of Education Progress in Science. Primarily, large achievement gaps were based on race-ethnicity and family income. In 2015, only 24% of students in Grade 4 and 8 were proficient in Science, well below the national average (proficiency rate that has not changed over so many years).
Here comes COVID-19…
The pandemic, combined with the abrupt shift to distance learning, widened the gap even more. The consequences affected not only students, but also faculty, administrators, and everyone else involved.
Media reports on the COVID-19 learning gap focused exclusively on reading and math. Research from the Public Policy Institute showed that the COVID-19 gap in science education is much worse than the reading and math gaps. This science gap will impact STEM majors and employment for at least the next decade.
Let’s talk about Nursing Education…
With nearly 4 million practitioners in the largest health profession, the suspension of both instruction and services had a significant impact on nursing schools. Finances, online learning technology, student academic progression, on-site learning opportunities, and other key challenges nursing schools redesigned their curriculum and strengthened their partnerships with online platform providers in response.
The gaps widened as the pandemic exacerbated what was already a serious problem. Levels of preparedness and response capacity had a significant impact on the course and the nursing workforce. Nursing, along with the rest of the health-care workforce, needed to sit down and rethink academic, educational technology, curriculum, and experiential learning opportunities.
So, what now?
The resources available and the financial impact caused by COVID-19 will last for a long time, but the time to act is now. To help students with knowledge and skill gaps, things like formative assessments, adaptive content, and teacher training and support are required.
In these trying times, flexibility and creativity will be highly beneficial on the road to recovery. So will collaboration with industry, and a clear-eyed focus on the totality of the learning experience.
Is there hope for a better future? Is there a silver lining to what has happened? I believe that the answer to both questions is yes and that we can use the impact of COVID-19 on learning and training to create education and corporate training systems that are more powerful and more effective than we could have imagined prior to the pandemic.
Bruce Lewolt, Founder – Blast Learning