Students across the Los Angeles area are anticipating returning to school but more than a year of online learning leaves many with gaps in material for cumulative subjects. Math, science and language classes require a strong foundation to move on to the next levels. Math gaps will likely be the most obvious.
Many students found it challenging to learn math remotely and relied on crutches like apps that show how to solve equations. Some of these students did well in the class but will find themselves with huge deficits in knowledge when they move to the next level. The consequences of not learning math are real and will be evident in standardized testing like the PSAT.
Private tutor Steve Clark said that much of his work in normal times is to fill in the learning gaps that students experience. This past year, he said he found many of the foundational concepts of course subjects have been skimmed over or skipped completely. He feels this is to be expected, given the sudden total transition to online learning. With the help of tutors, some students might be able to bridge the educational gap and stay on pace for learning material necessary to progress in subjects like math and science.
Unfortunately, students from underserved communities may not have the same opportunities when it comes to tutoring. These students may have to retake foundational courses which will preclude them from progressing to material typically covered before senior year when standardized tests are administered. Consequently, they are likely to have a harder time scoring well on standardized tests like the SAT.
A number of compassionate teens have started free online tutoring for students from underserved communities. Sarah Shapiro started CovidnineTeen Project which has served more than 600 students in 14 different counties.
Phil Black of Prepwell Academy, a private college coach who prepares high school students for the rigors of the college admissions process, cautions that many students are significantly behind in math aptitude. He warns parents to not trust that an A in last years math means they learned anything.
He said he recommends parents to have frank conversations their your child and keep close tabs on how they are progressing. He also suggests that the parents of juniors might have to adjust their expectations on how well their child will do on the SAT or ACT.
The long term impacts of online learning remain to be seen and schools will face challenges when adjusting curriculum for the disparate levels.