East Texas tutors working to close pandemic learning gap

“Don’t wait and think that these gaps are going to correct themselves, because they’re not. We need to help our students so that they can get back on track.”
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A national report shows how the pandemic has hurt students nationwide and here in East Texas.

“When schools went online in 2020, it just stopped learning at that point,” Mathnasium of Tyler center director Annette McKee said.

On Thursday, The National Center for Education Statistics released a progress report for 2022 which says overall math scores dropped seven points, while reading scores are down by five points. This marks the largest decline in reading since 1990 and the first time math scores have ever gone down.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

“We’re seeing where that gap just caused a disconnect,” McKee said.

Although Varsity Tutors Chief Academic Officer Brian Galvin does not see the loss in learning as a surprise.

“It’s certainly kind of a humbling sort of shock to really see it laid out numerically the way it was today.”

When schools shut down and moved to online learning, McKee said teachers and students lost the in-person connection.

“I can look at a child’s face and tell either they’re understanding that, or I need to go over that. I need to show them a different way,” McKee said.

Once students returned to in-person learning, the students still dealt with missing school when they were sick or revolving teachers when their teachers were sick.

Both the report and Carol Pope, Sylvan Learning Center Owner of Longview, Tyler and Mount Pleasant, said 9-year-olds were hit the hardest.

“The pandemic really cheated them of their foundation. They were in kindergarten, first grade, (and) they did not have the opportunity to get those foundational skills,” Pope said. “It’s also that they really haven’t got all that metacognition of ‘how do I learn, how do I get the most out of school?’” Galvin said.

Now, East Texas tutors recommend that parents, “Start today,” Pope said.

“Don’t wait and think that these gaps are going to correct themselves, because they’re not. We need to help our students so that they can get back on track.”