The Dramatic Effect of COVID-19 on Grades

By Davis Newman

February 4, 2021

During the past two school years, COVID-19 has completely changed the way students learn. Most students and teachers alike are facing the challenges that come with distance learning. Students are struggling to keep up with assignments and teachers are still learning to teach in an online environment, so it begs the question; how have student’s grades and achievements been affected by the global pandemic?

Comparison between the scores of students, before the pandemic, in the beginning of the pandemic, and currently in the pandemic has shown a major decrease of performance across the board. In mathematics During fall of 2020, students had a 5-10% lower score than students during the fall of 2019 according to Brookings.edu calculations. According to a study by Dr. Megan Kuhfeld and Dr. Beth Tarasawa, nwea.org discovered learning retention during summer was noticeably lower compared to before the pandemic, especially in math; and will continue to be so during the pandemic. English retention and scores have been significantly higher than math, and future math teachers may have to teach students who will not be fully prepared by the beginning of the year. 

Online learning is not equally challenging for all students. Students who were homeschooled prior to the pandemic find more success and teachers who received training for online school had a much smoother transition. To add on, a study from voxeu.org shows that the gap between high achieving and low-achieving students is widening, as well as the success gap between high and low-income students. In the case of high and low achieving students, is it shown that students who are frequently absent from class do exponentially worse than the attending students. For unmotivated students, it is much easier not to open a computer to skip class than leave a physical one. Furthermore, students who require in-person help during school have had a major decrease in school performance. Low-income students are doing much worse during this pandemic in comparison to high-income students. Low-Income students must cope without the resources a high-income student may have, and also must deal with the lack of parental support from a guardian who must deal with their own job or joblessness. For low-income students, this creates an incredibly unhealthy learning environment. 

The “COVID Generation” of students are facing learning circumstances never faced before, and as a result, the gap between successful and unsuccessful students grows, and the challenges for the low-income students grow. Although some students may find it less challenging than others, nearly all students are feeling the pressure and challenges that come from distance learning. A survey with 190 respondents at Malibu High School displayed that 30.5% of students reported having lower grades during distance learning compared to only 21.6 percent who claimed to have improved. Most students are finding trouble succeeding and test scores and projections for the future may be much worse compared to previous years. 

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