The pandemic took the lives of hundreds of thousands of family members. It led to a troubling rise in mental health issues, a so-called second pandemic. And during periods of remote and hybrid instruction, academic progress for many students stalled, particularly for those who were already struggling.
Unfortunately, many students disengaged from learning entirely during this period. In Chicago Public Schools, for example, data shows that attendance dropped precipitously, especially among Black students. A quarter of the district’s lowest-income students stopped attending class altogether.
District leaders and educators won’t solve these problems by focusing solely on making up lost academic time. In fact, if piling on more academic work comes at the expense of content that is meaningful and exciting, the approach could further disengage students. That’s why my district is reimagining high schools with a strong focus on helping students become leaders in their own learning and the learning of others — a pathway to future success and economic mobility.