LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Students in Kentucky's largest school district are approaching one year of learning solely online. Steve Ullum's daughter is a 4th grade student in Jefferson County Public Schools.

He is part of a Facebook group called 'Let them Learn in JCPS,' which is urging the district to re-open to in-person learning. Over 1,400 people are in this Facebook group.

What You Need To Know

  • New data finds millions of students have fallen behind in math and reading since the start of the pandemic

  • 66% of teachers said their students are less prepared for grade-level work compared to this time last year

  • Parents in Jefferson County are urging the district to re-open to in-person learning

  • Experts say the full impact of pandemic learning loss will take a while to fully sort out

“Children that age do not learn by watching a video online, taking notes and then sitting down at the kitchen table by themselves to do the work,” Ullum said.

In a national survey by the RAND Corporation, 66% of teachers said their students are less prepared for grade-level work now compared to this time last year.

“How much of her 5th grade year is going to be spent catching up because she didn’t learn anything during 4th grade? Is there even going to be time for her to learn what she is supposed to learn in 5th grade to be prepared for middle school?" Ullum asked.

Stanford researchers estimate since the start of the pandemic, the average American student has already lost a full year of learning in reading and over a full year of learning in math. Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner, Dr. Jason Glass, said we don't have a way to fully measure the impact the pandemic has had on Kentucky students yet.

“I think we are going to have to, once we get past this crisis, get students together to really assess what they learned and what they didn’t learn. I think we are going to be sorting out the impact of this for some time to come,” Dr. Glass said. 

He said schools are going to have to do standardized tests and other assessments to see where students are right now compared to where students typically are at that point in the year. With that being said, Glass wants to focus on making school fun again, not just putting kids in testing all the time.

“I think there is a temptation to let’s assess and focus on the basics. I, professionally, think that is a mistake. We need to get kids to fall in love with school again. We don’t do that by assessing, drilling and killing them on foundational skills. We need to create experiences for kids that are engaging and meaningful, that draw them back into school,” Dr. Glass said.

He said teachers will be able to use those test results to guide curriculum. Dr. Glass said since this was a disrupted year and there is no way to ensure consistent testing environments, it will not be used for school ratings or accountability.