Debunking The Learning Loss Narrative

Much has been written and discussed in education since the beginning of the pandemic over concerns of learning loss in students around the world. There is fear among educators and parents across the globe that children will be developmentally behind in their learning due to the shutdowns, moves to distance and hybrid learning and the isolation experienced during the pandemic. Part of the issue of thinking about learning loss in this way is that it presupposes that there is some standard level of knowledge that each child should know by a given age or date. It does not take into account that every individual learns at a different pace, or that the scope of knowledge all humans learn far exceeds any predetermined measurements on standardized tests. Learning was not lost last year, it was disrupted. Children, parents and teachers were challenged to learn new things and adapt in new ways. Universities were also challenged to rethink their admissions processes and to deprioritize standardized testing as the availability for students to complete entrance exams or the SAT was diminished.

2021 Measures of Academic Progress Data

We made a choice last spring to continue with our MAP testing, which we do for grades 2-10 in the fall and spring of each school year. MAP is a standardized test that measures student growth and achievement in Math, Reading and Language. We felt it our professional obligation to determine from an external source how our students were progressing in these areas, and be ready to adjust our teaching in the fall of this school year to address areas of deficit.  In general for students on the whole, we were fortunate to find that there were no deficits.

Our recent positive MAP results in the Spring of 2021 indicate our students performed at a high level overall comparative to other schools around the world, internationally and regionally as well as compared to both private and public schools in the U.S. Our students maintained performance with prior years (pre-covid) or improved in their performance compared to pre-covid years.  This year, fall MAP testing will be conducted during the month of September.  Please be on the lookout for more information for when your child will be engaged with MAP testing.

As noted in the above graph, AAS outperforms the US Norm Mean and the International Mean at every grade level in Math. When AAS scores are compared to the CEESA Mean, AAS shows comparable scores or outperforms CEESA as well.

As noted in the above graph, AAS outperforms the US Norm Mean and the International Mean at every grade level in Reading. When compared to the CEESA Mean, AAS shows comparable scores or outperforms CEESA as well.

2021 IBDP Results

We are also pleased to share that the May 2021 IB results were very strong and at the highest overall average level in school history. IB results for our graduates are another external benchmark we use to measure student achievement.  Were our graduates any less prepared for university than their predecessors? We have no data to suggest this is the case.  What we see is that the learning gains in resilience, collaboration, and critical thinking are expected to contribute to their success. 

AAS surpassed its highest average score total in school history with an average individual score of 35.6 for the 2021 Cohort.

Educators and parents are united in the noble cause of doing what is best for children. There is no question that last year was difficult on everyone and that all of us had to learn new things every step of the way.

Two external 2021 measurements, MAP and IBDP, indicate that our students achieved at or above pre-Covid levels.

While we will continue to monitor our student progress on these external assessments, we feel confident in shifting the learning loss narrative from deficit thinking to a broader inclusive understanding of learning.

If this is an interesting topic for you and you would like to discuss, please email to set-up a time to talk.

We have many resources to share. If enough families are interested in a deeper discussion on this topic, we would welcome the opportunity to host a productive focus group conversation.

Warm regards, 

Chris Schuster
AAS Deputy Director
Portrait of High School Principal  Dr. Christopher Schuster

Christopher Schuster
Deputy Director