Bringing students back academically from the challenges of remote instruction and other COVID disruptions may take a while. But there is good news when it comes to calculating how long it will take and what it might cost, according to a report by District Administration.

To help districts get a handle on the size of the recovery, the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University has developed a calculator that school leaders can use to determine how far behind their students are and the costs of tutoring to catch them up.

The Edunomics Lab calculator has data on approximately 8,000 districts, including how long schools were closed for remote learning or operating on a hybrid model. The cost estimates are also based on factors such as a district’s racial demographics; poverty levels; and the impact of past major disruptions, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

Data shows that low achieving, Black and Hispanic, and low-income students fell the furthest behind during the pandemic, particularly during remote or hybrid learning.

For instance, the Edunomics Lab estimates that in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which was fully remote for most of the 2020-21 school year, students fell 22 weeks behind in math and 18 weeks behind in reading.

Here’s how that compares to other districts:

Falls Church City Public Schools, Virginia; low-poverty and mostly remote:

  • 11 weeks in math
  • 5 weeks of reading

Brevard Public Schools, Florida; mid-poverty and mostly in-person:

  • 6 weeks in math
  • 4 weeks in learning

Galena Park Independent School District, Texas; high-poverty and mostly in-person:

  • 11 weeks in math
  • 10 weeks in reading

The costs of recovery are based on providing high-dosage tutoring to students three times a week for the entirety of an average 36-week school year. The costs could vary based on student-to-tutor ratios and who provides the instruction.

The Edunomics Lab estimates that it will cost Los Angeles Unified about $851 million to provide the necessary math tutoring and $466 million for reading. The district received $2.5 billion in the third round of ESSER funding.

While districts and states have submitted their plans for spending their relief funds, much of the money has yet to be spent, and school leaders have time to alter those plans as the scope of learning loss is now becoming clearer. Leaders are also encouraged gather more input from their communities when considering changes.

An estimated 57% of 100 large and urban districts studied by the Center for Reinventing Public Education have followed an ESSER requirement to collect community feedback on their initial spending plans. Districts that have reached out to their communities have done so through surveys, town halls and other platforms. Some districts have created new opportunities to include parents in leadership decisions.