COVID-19 and Education: Strategies for Mitigating Inequities and Accelerating Learning

In the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the goal of this National Academy of Education (NAEd) project is to bring together educational scholars, policy leaders, and practitioners to address the fundamental educational challenge of our time — how to mitigate learning loss and to prevent the exacerbation of educational inequities during this time of upheaval and disruption in educational instruction. Prior to COVID-19, the United States faced persistent racial disparities and increased socioeconomic disparities as measured by educational achievement testing, commonly referred to as educational achievement gaps. Gloria Ladson-Billings, the current NAEd president, has also helped our educational community to recognize these achievement gaps for what they truly are, an accumulation of “educational debt” that we as a society have a shared responsibility to address.

Beginning in mid-March 2020, the majority of students, spanning pre-kindergarten to higher education, have been home-bound with schools closed and states and localities engaged in wide ranging efforts to provide educational opportunities to children. Moreover, states have varied in their goals – from maintaining the educational knowledge at the time of physical school closings to imparting new knowledge to students in these chaotic times. Some school districts struggle to send home worksheet packets and maintain minimal contact with students while others seek to ensure that all students have access to personalized technology, wi-fi, and synchronous learning. What is clear is that at end of this crisis – whenever that may be – all children will have educational deficits, and these will be exacerbated for students from low income families and non-dominant cultures.

The NAEd will organize a series of roundtable discussions culminating in summaries that will highlight evidence-based strategies to remediate learning losses and to prevent the deepening of educational inequities. The NAEd will focus on these topics: (1) the mitigation of reading losses and acceleration strategies; (2) the mitigation of mathematics losses and acceleration strategies; and (3) whole person well-being particularly in the wake of trauma. There will also necessarily be cross-cutting themes including how to best implement evidence-based strategies for successful online learning, how to ensure that marginalized students remain “in school” when there is no or less than optimal physical schooling, and how to design accountability measures that do not penalize and/or lead to harmful educational outcomes for already marginalized students.


  • Michael J. Feuer (Chair), The George Washington University
  • Hyman Bass, University of Michigan
  • Dorothy Espelage, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Susanna Loeb, Brown University
  • Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar, University of Michigan
  • William F. Tate IV, Washington University at St. Louis
  • Frank Worrell, University of California, Berkeley
  • Stanton Wortham, Boston College


Amy Berman, Deputy Director

Dian Dong, Program Officer, Research

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