The Lingering Effects of COVID-19 on Students

For the most part, it seems as if the COVID-19 pandemic has reached its conclusion. Yet, many of its effects are still visible throughout the nation. While doctors may talk about long-term COVID symptoms, educators have noticed a sizeable difference in their students after returning from online classes. Mainly, their test scores are down, and their grades are suffering.

After more than a year of studying online, it seems as if students have forgotten how to learn in a real-world environment. Second Nature Utah reviews the lingering consequences of COVID and how a necessary shift away from traditional learning styles may have caused some damage to many students’ grades.

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Test Scores are Statistically Lower on Average

According to data collected by the Brookings Institute, national math scores are down between 0.20 and 0.27 standard deviations among the nation’s primary and middle school students. Although these two numbers may seem relatively small, they are actually quite large when considering the distribution of test scores. This data suggests that, on average, COVID-19 has caused students’ scores to drop more than any event in recent history.

In addition to lower test scores, many students are also struggling to maintain good grades in their classes. High schools in Houston, Texas reported a major increase in the number of students earning at least one F grade during the fall of 2020, up to nearly 50%. Since returning to school, though, their grades have not improved.

Now, many high school students worry that they’ll be unable to attend colleges or universities because they’re under-prepared and unable to take the SAT, ACT, or any other standardized test used to place incoming students.

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Low-Income and Minority Children Continue to Suffer the Worst

During the pandemic, it became excruciatingly clear that demographic differences were affecting lower-income and minority children’s ability to study online. According to a report from the American Educational Research Association, Hispanic and Black students were less likely to have access to a computer at home, compared to nearly 95% of White students.

This difference in access to technology meant that many students were unable to attend online classes, complete assignments, or take part in necessary activities to succeed in school. Resultingly, their grades have suffered tremendously. In fact, Hispanic and Black students were more likely to receive an F grade in at least one class and they were also more likely to have their GPAs dip below a 2.0.

What’s more, these students are also less likely to have access to the resources they need to improve their grades. For example, they’re less likely to have a tutor, or to be able to afford one. This perfect storm of factors has resulted in Hispanic and Black students struggling more than any other group to overcome the setbacks of lost learning during the pandemic.

The Bottom Line

When we talk about the effects of COVID-19, it’s easy to be blinded by the economics and social politics but there’s no way to avoid the evidence that nearly two years of online classes have drastically harmed our children’s education. For now, school boards must work around the clock to reverse the losses and help underprivileged students regain their footing at school.

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