By Erin Gibson
The news is grim: elementary and middle school students have fallen significantly behind in math during the pandemic. The research published in November 2020 (“Learning during COVID-19: Initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth”) shares that in fall 2020, students in grades three through eight performed about five to 10 percentile points lower in the math section on the MAP® GrowthTM assessment compared to 2019.
The results are concerning, but unsurprising. Last year was tumultuous for students, with many spending some or most of the year learning remotely and schools closing in March without any preparation or warning. While the assessment scores suffered, there were some glimmers of hope. Grade-level performance also was measured between winter 2020 and fall 2020, and results show that students advanced in math, just not as rapidly as they would have in a typical year.
What can parents do if they know their child has fallen behind in math or has not fulfilled his or her potential due to the unique circumstances the pandemic created? Get individualized tutoring help to address the gaps that may have widened, and help your child catch up.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS ON HOW TO APPROACH THE SEARCH FOR A GOOD TUTORING PROGRAM:
MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD’S PRECISE NEEDS ARE BEING ADDRESSED
The teacher you have work with your child must create a program that is based on your child’s specific needs and precise areas of strength or weakness. Not just any program will do. It must be customized to fit your child wherever he or she is.
GET A CLEAR PICTURE OF WHERE YOUR CHILD STANDS IN MATH
An initial assessment to identify where your child is struggling is important. Before starting any program, make sure you get a baseline on where your child has knowledge gaps.
REMEMBER: NOT ALL TUTORS ARE THE SAME
When considering options, ask for details about how teachers are trained (and if they are certified). Are the math teachers qualified to teach all levels of math, or are there certain experts in different areas of math?
LOOK TO THE TRACK RECORD
Get references and data about how students have improved in each math tutoring program you consider. Look for current testimonials, and ask other parents who have worked with the learning center or tutor.
Math is the type of subject where small problems can quickly become big ones. If your child fell behind in math during the school closures in spring 2020 and struggled to get back on track thereafter, chances are this year is just as hard. Your child needs help — sooner rather than later. With the right program of instruction, your child can boost his or her confidence, finish the school year strong and put those math difficulties in the past where they belong.
Erin Gibson is operations manager with Huntington Learning Center. Reach her at (228) 832-1226 or GibsonE@HLCmail. com.