The National Report Card: Living in a Post-Covid Academic Era

The National Report Card: Living in a Post-Covid Academic Era

The past two weeks have been a concerning time for parents of school-aged children… And this is not specific to any grade. Whether you have a child in kindergarten or one applying to (or attending) college, you, as a parent, are hearing and reading about some alarming reports. You may even analyze specific pieces of your child’s education and are likely concerned. We are concerned with the state testing scores being released, including SAT and ACT scores.

When COVID-19 spread through the world in 2020, causing schools to close, businesses to become remote, and, overall, causing a standstill in the progressive world as we know it, some good things came out of this early on.

Families spent more time together (since they were warned they should by no means come close to other individuals).

Kids got to be kids again. Without any activities to attend to or homework to do, students were free to explore the, albeit small, world around them.

The world became healthier for a while as transportation ceased and pollution decreased significantly, giving the earth a chance to breathe.

As the pandemic continued, these short-term benefits became long-term pitfalls. Children were isolated and didn’t socialize. Parents struggled to work while having the kids at home with little or no structured learning.

And then, students returned to the classroom in some shape or form. And we were told they would be fine. Kids are resilient. Kids will catch up. The kids are okay. 

But are they?

Parents were happy to have their children return to some structured schooling. Most were “just happy they were back in school.” But then reality hit. The significant decline in knowledge and skills is now impossible to ignore. We have data, we have statistics, we have the numbers, and we see the waitlists for child psychiatrists and behavior specialists growing with little hope of getting an appointment soon.

The kids are behind.

This seems obvious. If you take a kid out of school from March through October 2020 and then put them back into school for 6–15 hours a week, you cannot expect them to be on track. Any parenting discussion will talk about which group is worse… The younger kids lost so much socialization. Elementary-age kids lost the foundations. The middle schoolers lost social norms and extensions of academics that allowed them to move forward in their education. High schoolers lost the application of their years of learning. College students lost the real college experience.

No matter what age your child is, they have suffered a loss. And we cannot spin it to make it okay. We must accept it and figure out what to do with this information.

State Testing. 

State testing requirements remained in public schools and showed an alarming decline in scores. We have been set back 30 years in 2 years. What are parents and schools doing about it? There is not much they can do outside of lowering the standards. Some are seeking outside help. At Zinkerz, carefully curated courses are designed to meet your learner where they are. Then, they are offered reinforcement, reteaching, and extensions to solidify their understanding of the material. No two students experience the same course because each one is designed to meet each student’s needs. Our recent case study of a student’s tremendous increase in scores shows just one example of this methodology working to help the student regain confidence and knowledge.

SAT/ACT Exams

During COVID, many exam sites closed, causing schools to go test-optional for application to the 2021 class. But since then, the sites have reopened. Countless schools remain test-optional, but are they? Side-by-side comparisons of students with similar profiles show students who submit their SAT scores indicating they meet the average score requirement are more likely to get admitted to the college. Many parents and students now see the need to at least try to take the SAT or ACT, so many students did this year. And the results, outlined in a recent article, show a decrease in scores. Now, not everything can be attributed to COVID-19. But this surely did not help. The College Board is known for adding new topics every few exams, and the expert curriculum team at Zinkerz has noticed some recent trends in the SAT. So many that they are hosting a “live” session to discuss these trends. But this is nothing new. The college board cycles through topics, and the students constantly adjust. So why is this now different?

The test scores’ decline must indicate that the students have less knowledge now than before. DUH! Of course, this is true. Nothing stated here should shock anyone: less schooling = less knowledge = less retention.

And while we may not all agree about whether or not the SAT or ACT is a fair assessment, we have no control over how colleges use it to analyze each applicant’s strengths. And many colleges will revert to being “test required.” What can you do?

Diving right into SAT/ACT prep may not be the right approach for your child. They may need to fill in some gaps before they have a chance for success in the exam. Some companies, like Zinkerz, offer an initial assessment that paints a picture of where the student is. They then create a learning path to success for each child. If they are not ready to start test-specific preparation, they will take a Math or English Principles course designed to fill in the holes and solidify their understanding of topics. Once mastered, they can dive into exam prep, where experienced educators work with students in their weakest areas. Constant reassessments allow study plans to be modified weekly to ensure students maximize their progress. At Zinkerz, students are not just another number. The staff meets with educators, parents, and students to create a team. Through teamwork, each student learns in a way that is best for them.

What Grade Should the Nation Get?

Are we failing? No, we are not failing, but we do not have perfect scores. This has been tumultuous, and we are still not out of the woods. Society will see the aftermath of COVID for years to come. But instead of blaming COVID for how things are, we need to do something about it. We, as a society, have the power to make a change. While not all families can afford private tutoring, there are other ways to get help. At Zinkerz, we care. Our Zinkerz Gives Back Initiative offers free services to local communities through classes, consultations, and scholarships. We want to be a part of the solution. Let’s work together to get an A+!

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