We’ve already reviewed the increasingly damning evidence of the impact that lengthy school closures and “virtual learning” programs had on elementary and middle school students during the pandemic lockdowns. Math and reading skills tested at the fourth and eighth grade levels have plummeted and many children are having a very hard time bouncing back. But there is another group of students who haven’t drawn as much attention yet. Older high school students who were in their junior and senior years of high school during the closures are now heading off to college. (Or at least the ones who still managed to get accepted are.) A new report from the New York Times indicates that many of those students are falling behind badly in college and some simply aren’t going to make the cut. (Free Beacon)
Students whose last two years of high school were marred by school lockdowns and online learning are now falling behind at college, the New York Times reports.
Members of the class of 2022, who were sophomores when the pandemic began, are struggling to keep up in their freshman college courses, feeling like they lost two years of education in high school. With the latest results from the Education Department showing a dismal decline in fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading scores, universities fear that students struggling to catch up may be an ongoing trend among college freshmen.
Enrollment in undergraduate programs has fallen 4.2 percent since 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Unless a student plans on going into the trades or the military after high school (both of which are increasingly popular choices for very good reasons), one of the primary purposes of high school is to allow students to master all of the areas that they will be expected to build upon when they get to college. If you haven’t mastered the fundamental skills of reading and math, to say nothing of basic science, college-level material may be too much for you to handle.
This trend seems to have already caused significant decreases in enrollment at many colleges, along with higher numbers of students washing out during their freshman year. Benedict College in South Carolina reported an average freshman class size of approximately 700 prior to the pandemic. This year they had 378 as they approached the end of the first semester. The school’s president said that the greatest struggles they are observing are in mathematics.
The Times reported that some colleges, including Texas A&M University, weren’t just reporting higher numbers of Ds and Fs in math classes. Professors have, in some cases, taken to “dumbing down” the coursework and seeking additional tutoring resources. That may wind up producing more graduates, but how well prepared will those young people be to apply for jobs in the tech sector after graduation?
The damage that was done to the American educational system by the prolonged lockdowns of the schools should be obvious to everyone by now. And yet we still haven’t heard a single apology from the authors of these policies inside of the federal government or the teachers’ unions. Almost all of them still have their jobs and they’re moving on as if there’s simply “nothing to see here.” But it’s the families of these students who will be paying the price for those decisions for a very long time to come.