Now that many schools are back in action using an online format, many parents and students have raised concern about possible curriculum deficiencies. Shorter and less frequent classes may result in a 50-75% reduction of material taught for the remainder of the year. Schools that have opted to change their grading to pass/fail have caused a great deal of confusion and frustration, especially among students who have worked hard to earn stellar grades for the first semester.
Curriculum modification has the potential to be most disruptive in math and science. For example, an Algebra I class builds on itself throughout the year to prepare students for the rigors of Algebra II. If they haven’t mastered simultaneous equations or factoring in Algebra I, they will find themselves at a significant disadvantage in Algebra II. Similarly, sequential science courses become increasingly abstract. Lack of concrete understanding of biology might impair comprehension in chemistry as students examine the intangible molecular components of would-be familiar biological processes. This lack of foundation with science might be enough to sway students who might have otherwise pursued science majors in college to focus on other disciplines – which would be such a shame.
A less rigorous curriculum can also affect the humanities and foreign language. If students are not assigned the same volume of reading and writing work, and if they are unable to debate theses and argue viewpoints, they are missing out on continued development of their analytical and expository skills. Foreign language learning may also deteriorate without regular practice and communication with peers and teachers.
Many parents and students are understandably lamenting their school’s decision to become pass/fail. While it is clear that schools made this decision to create a less stressful atmosphere during an extremely unsettling time, students with excellent grades from the first semester feel short-changed by this decision. Surely a grade of “passing” does not adequately reflect the hundreds of study hours invested over the first two-thirds of the school year. Furthermore, grades are the currency that measure and reward grit, hard work, and mastery. Without assessments or grades, many parents have noticed a significant drop in motivation.
At Empire Edge, we have both foundational and highly challenging resources to ensure your child does not lose out on valuable curriculum this year. Using topics covered, course syllabi, and our intimate knowledge of the traditional arc of high school classes, we can create compelling assignments, papers, quizzes, and exams to help keep student focus and engagement high. Alongside your students, we can debate, analyze, and write about the canon of high school literature, converse in a foreign language, and complete and supplement critical concepts in math and science. Contact us to learn more about how we can complement your child’s educational programs this year to minimize the long-term effects of this protracted school absence.