December 20, 2023

2023 in review: Solutions to support student learning and success

The Education Lab shares an end-of-year update on its work to design, test, and scale programs to ensure all students have the opportunity for future success.

The pandemic didn’t only create a once-in-a-century public health crisis but also a once-in-a-century education crisis. Over the last few years, American schoolchildren lost an average of three-quarters of a year of schooling, and the most disadvantaged kids fell even further behind, making existing educational gaps even worse.

While there has been some improvement, if the country doesn’t do more to accelerate learning, we could see significantly lower lifetime income for a generation of 50 million school-age children. The lost earnings due to lower math scores alone are projected to add up to $900 billion. And because learning loss was worse for non-white and lower-income students, we risk dramatically increasing economic inequality.

The good news? We know what works. Our research shows that high-dosage tutoring (individualized instruction embedded during the school day) can double or triple students’ math learning in one year. It’s a promising intervention known for centuries to help students of all ages and backgrounds. Learn more below about how we’re taking this evidence forward to reach students at scale.

Research that impacts students:

The Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI) is our most ambitious research project to date, designed to overcome pandemic learning loss by developing and testing new versions of high-dosage tutoring for students nationwide.

This year:

  • We’re providing tutoring to thousands, figuring out which approaches suit each student best. Through PLI, partners are serving over 10,000 students and counting with high-dosage tutoring models – even more importantly, we will be able to tell partner education agencies whether these services have been effective and for which students.
  • We worked to recruit a very large number of students across a diverse set of district and state partners. We are working with seven districts, one charter network, and one state across the country, including Chicago Public Schools; Fulton County Schools, GA; the New Mexico Department of Education; and Greenville County Schools, SC.
  • We proposed policy solutions to help schools scale high-dosage tutoring and close learning gaps. This month, the Education Lab team participated in an event hosted by the Aspen Economic Strategy Group to raise attention to the country’s education challenges and the evidence-based solutions to address them.
A student receives support from a tutor. Photo by Saga Education.


Improving outcomes for young people:

We serve as CPS’ design, technical assistance, and data analysis partner for Back to Our Future, the first state-funded, district-led, evidence-informed effort to re-engage disconnected students at elevated risk for gun violence involvement.

Our evaluation of Youth Guidance’s Working on Womanhood (WOW), a program providing in-school trauma counseling for girls across Chicago Public Schools, revealed a 22% drop in PTSD symptoms and a 38% decrease in moderate trauma-related distress among participants.

We evaluated the effect of restorative practices (a strategy to help students repair harm, restore relationships, and prevent retaliation) implemented in high schools across Chicago Public Schools. The study revealed a 35% drop in in-school student arrests and a 15% decrease in out-of-school arrests within participating schools.

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