worth of learning that has been lost.
Once successful and excellent students are failing. What grade should they be in now? Schools are
considering placing students in the grade they should be in chronologically, going forward with those studies,
and concurrently or over the summer (usually a 10 week break), having them “catch up” on the studies they
have failed or missed out on.
Really? Really, really?!
Students are supposed to move on with a new year’s content without having grasped what they were supposed to have learned from the past year.
In addition to keeping up with new studies, they are supposed to somehow make up an entire year’s worth of learning at the same time.
This reveals a few things about education. It suggests to me, anyway, that except for Science and Math, the content of courses taken at the high school level can be arranged in any order. We have broken down studies into subject areas and have further broken those down into a schedule of topics to be taught, but essentially this order is arbitrary and made for the convenience of dividing the learning into manageable chunks.
Schools commonly do this sort of thing. I've had students take World History II before taking World History I because of conflicts in their schedule or other reasons. Yet a lot of learning does rely on having a proper foundation for the next step. Mathematics is probably the easiest example of this. It would not make sense to teach Algebra II to students who had not taken Algebra I. As a history teacher, I personally think there is a benefit to looking at history with a chronological approach. But you don't have to. You can look at our current world and go back to see why we do things a certain way, why counties exist, what ideas were the foundation for current governments and practices. Connecting our world today with the things that led up to current practices and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Using questions as a catalyst for learning is an ancient practice and works well in a lot of situations. I can see this working in science classes - after all, the idea of asking a question is pretty important in using the scientific method.
What about Language Arts? I'm sure you could rearrange the order in which Literature is taught, but the mechanics of writing? Grammar? There are building blocks for writing - and a lot of practice, revision, and critiquing that are necessary to helping students become effective writers. In any class there will be a range of levels of expertise, so some students may be writing in a sophisticated manner while others are still learning to use verbs correctly. This is par for the course. Will the techniques currently used by schools to help students "catch up" work after our long-term interruption in education? How have these techniques been working so far, before the lock downs happened? Hmmmm. Mixed results there.
Trying to make up for a year of lost learning isn't easy. At the high school level it becomes even more complicated, because of the credit requirements for graduation. I would think, also, that it's not just a matter of "doing the work." I personally would also like students to have actually learned something. Making up missed credit threatens to become an exercise in jumping through hoops. Schools are likely to fall back on packets of worksheets, written reports, and tests. I can see piles of paper, reams of worksheets, collections of student writing looming - because that is what schools have done in the past. This is what schools fall back on.
Should students and their parents be satisfied with that?
If your answer is "no", then what do you plan to do?
There are options. Those people who have been homeschooling and are parts of homeschooling groups are probably in the best position to carry on, because they have not lost a year of learning. Families who have been relying on their local public schools will likely get some help from their schools; however, if their students have disengaged from learning over the past year because of online learning, how are they going to get them engaged now? Think about this. A teenager who once loved school has lost all interest and motivation after being separated from their peers and forced into an online environment is now going to embrace making up a whole year of coursework while also doing this year's work. That's going to be a pretty hard sell, even for the best of schools.
Another option is offered by Heartwood Renaissance Academy Heartwood offers standardized testing and personal feedback on student progress. The test results can be broken down so that students can see both what they already have mastery of and where the holes are in their learning. This can help families in focusing on the things their students have missed out on, while allowing them to set aside things their students have proven knowledge of. Imagine your teen is facing a year's worth of study in math, but their test reveals they know 70% of the concepts they are expected to master for their grade level. Imagine the relief of knowing they only need to learn 30% of the content? Testing after instruction (usually at the end of the school year) could document the student's mastery of that content area. This proof could possibly be used for their school records to enable the school to grant credit (you should talk to your school first before trying something like this), or other options for being given credit could be discussed with Heartwood Renaissance Academy.
What if a student's test shows they are far behind where someone in their grade should be? Wouldn't you want to know that? Wouldn't you want experienced educators to come up with a plan that targets what your student needs to learn and includes connections to resources and personal advice? Few things in life are going to be more important in your and your student's life than a quality education. Some have said, "Knowledge is Power." Certainly education is the door to your student's future.
You will find on other pages of this site a growing collection of links to resources that may be of help to you. Whatever you do, be an advocate for your student. Evaluate what you can do to make sure they get the education support they need, and feel free to share if you have resources, groups, or links you think would be helpful to others.
"Only the educated are free." - Epictetus, Discourses