Over the past 8 months, we all have been forced to come to terms with a new normal. From stay-at-home orders to face masks to becoming teachers to our kiddos as well as working full-time, life has taken a stressful turn. Teachers are still expected to teach the curriculum at the same pace with reduced teaching hours and kids are expected to learn the material in the short time it has been introduced to them, regardless of their learning style.
Unfortunately, a new type of learning loss has developed. Termed the “COVID slide”, it refers to a pattern of learning loss that typically happens over summer break, but more severe due to extended school closures. The COVID slide means that students may start the 2020-2021 school year substantially behind in their education and will continue to struggle this year — and potentially well beyond.
Academic experts agree that math has been the hardest hit subject. The NWEA, which offers state-aligned tests that measure academic progress, predicts that children in elementary school will experience the biggest slide in their math skills and comprehension, especially if they had math learning gaps before the pandemic. But the impact straddles all grade levels.
Principals, teachers, and parents are all worried. In a spring survey by the Association of American Educators Foundation, 52% of teachers said their primary concern was that students would struggle to learn in a virtual environment or fall behind academically.
Unlike most other academic subjects, math knowledge is cumulative, so math learning loss must be remedied before students can move forward. Math educators know that the effects of early math learning gaps are both wide-ranging and long-lasting. Children who never fully understood how fractions work, for example, will struggle in algebra later. But math learning gaps impact more than just school grades. A lack of math competency often leads to a lack of self-confidence, limited choices for higher education, narrower career options, and difficulty navigating the everyday adult requirements for numerical ability.
What’s more surprising, though, is that research suggests that the learning deficits of children who miss significant school time extend to their children as well, creating a multigenerational handicap.
“Incomplete” Learning Means Gaps for Fall — and Beyond
In an American Educators Panels survey in late April and early May, school principals told the Rand Corporation that reducing learning gaps will be more important this coming school year than in previous years. But how does one do that if plans to re-open schools are always in flux? Schools may open, only to close again when their locale becomes a virus hot spot. Schools that developed a “hybrid” model — some classes in person, some online — may switch back to fully remote again. The instability leaves both teachers and students at a disadvantage.
Schools administrators, hit with decreased district spending and increased costs due to the pandemic, are scrambling. Teachers are continuing to make heroic efforts: This year, many of them will have to teach a class where children may be multiple grade-levels apart in their knowledge. Especially in schools with large class sizes, it’s impossible to provide customized learning that will reverse the COVID slide learning loss for each child. The inability to focus on the individual child is part of why “pod-based learning,” which allows students to learn in small groups, is on the rise.
Mathnasium of Turlock has one goal: helping students Catch Up, Keep Up & Get Ahead in Math.
“We know that kids don’t hate math; they hate how it makes them feel – embarrassed, frustrated, incapable”stated Ramona Eshagh, Mathnasium’s Director. “Our comprehensive assessment allows us to build a personalized learning plan that meets students where they are today. By building on their current foundational knowledge, we build confidence and mastery of topics that once seemed impossible to understand by students.”
Located in the Raley’s Shopping Center off Geer Road, Mathnasium of Turlock provides both in-center and online live instruction. They are celebrating their Grand Opening in October, offering FREE assessments to all students from 2-12thgrade. Call 209-348-6284 to schedule your free assessment. Visit Mathnasium.com/Turlock to learn more.