D.C. Elementary Students’ Literacy Rates Fall After Months of Distanced Learning

Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser (D.) / Getty Images
• October 23, 2020 3:50 pm

Yearly literacy assessment results released Thursday found that literacy rates among Washington, D.C. elementary students have fallen after seven months of distanced learning.

The assessment results show a 22-percent decline in kindergarteners' meeting benchmark reading goals, and a nine-percent decline for all students from kindergarten to second grade as schools remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. And students with learning disabilities and English as a Second Language (ESL) students have fallen even further behind. 

Now, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D.) and D.C. Public Schools chancellor Lewis Ferebee said the district is on an "urgent mission" to get students back in the classroom. The mayor said she worries some students will be unable to close the learning gap that distanced learning has created over the past few months. 

Bowser closed schools in mid-April because of the coronavirus outbreak. Despite ordering schools to begin the fall semester with distanced learning, she later announced that schools could begin to reopen halfway through the fall semester—on a date just after the November 3 election. 

D.C. public schools will bring back 7,000 elementary-school students for in-person instruction beginning on November 9, prioritizing ESL, homeless, learning-disabled, and at-risk students.

Thousands of other students will also return to their classrooms with their peers, but their teachers will still conduct classes virtually.