At Lakefield, we monitor educational trends as they appear at our school and across the globe. A recent New York Times editorial observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a loss of learning so significant, it will impact national economies. Educators around the world are reflecting on this moment in history which will require a massive educational response to ensure we meet the needs of our students today and combat the losses.
Lakefield has students from all corners of the world who had wide-ranging experiences and levels of support during those months of the pandemic—when they sat in front of screens at home, rather than in classrooms with their peers and teachers. While there are reports of losses in proficiency in all courses and at all ages, we are currently witnessing an apparent gap for some students in math. Many international and American studies highlight losses of learning in this area. The heavier impact on math is likely related to the sequentially building structure of the math curriculum that requires a firm foundation to progress, and where small gaps can compound over time.
The New York Times notes, that for the students who have fallen furthest behind, the best responses to learning loss include increasing, “the time that students spend in school — such as after-school programs and summer school…In some communities, children have fallen behind by more than a year and a half in math.” The same article also notes that “Highly trained, dedicated teachers have long been known to be the most reliable path to better educational outcomes.”
At LCS, we have constructed our academic experience to ensure students have attention given to their unique needs and that each student has an individualized pathway to success. That being said, we are seeing a variety of gaps and unfulfilled potentials amongst a small group of our students. As we also know, math, as an area of study, can elicit concerns and a growth mindset is critical to success.
Lakefield’s mathematics and computer science programs have constructed a support plan that seeks to meet the needs of all of our students:
- Our classes are small: Our school class average size is under 14 students in a class and no math class has more than 20 students in it.
- Our classes are 95 minutes long: Extended periods ensure that students have time to do work in class, with their teachers.
- Math teachers offer at least 2-3 hours of Grove Time (extra help) every week: Students get a chance to connect with their teacher and receive direct feedback and support.
- Math Evening Support: Twice a week between 6:30 and 8:00 pm, an LCS math teacher meets students to provide them with focused individual support. This room is also supported by peer tutors who can work one-on-one with students seeking help with ideas, assignments, or homework.
This mix of opportunities provides students with a variety of support during the day and evening, in small groups and with our highly qualified teachers. This year, we are seeing some unique needs created by unique experiences. So, in addition to our current math support, we are offering a more specific small group math support on two additional evenings. These sessions will support fewer students with more focused needs and will be populated by students through their teachers. This will offer students the chance to build a plan to address their gaps and get back onto a successful track in math.
We should not lose sight of the fact that many students are thriving in our math program, and we also must flexibly address new challenges as they arise. We are excited about the opportunities we are providing for our students to thrive and we believe in our students’ capacity to continuously grow.