New Article: After the pandemic disrupted their high school educations, students are arriving at college unprepared

Posted by The Hechinger Report on May 17, 2022

Andrea Hernandez studied the multiplication table nearly every day during the summer between her third and fourth grade years. Sitting at her family’s kitchen table in Dallas while her mother prepared dinner, she printed the arithmetic over and over in a yellow, spiral-bound notebook. When she started at a new school in the fall of 2012, she breezed through the timed math tests. From then until the coronavirus hit, when she was a 16-year-old precalculus student, Hernandez shined in the classroom.

Then, like millions of other students across the country, Hernandez was forced to shift to learning online. For the rest of her junior year and most of her senior year, she learned from a laptop in her family’s living room, with her younger sibling taking Zoom classes down the hall in their shared bedroom.

She felt she lost her muscle for being a student. The standards for online learning during her junior year weren’t just lower than they had been in the classroom, she said, “the standards weren’t even there at all.”

By a slim margin, Hernandez, a math major, failed the math placement exam that would have landed her a seat in calculus in the fall as a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. She retook precalculus and earned an A. Now, she spends four days a week in an unusually small seminar-style calculus class with 31 other aspiring mathematicians and engineers.

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