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Lack of motivation could be contributing to students falling behind, tutor says

Department of Education's report on the 2020-2021 academic year found math proficiency dropped in some students by more than 21% compared to the 2018 academic year

SIMSBURY, Conn. — The State Department of Education released its yearly status report for the 2020 - 2021 academic year and it found students lacking in certain subjects such as math and English Language Arts.

It found the effects of the pandemic on in-person learning played a role in the change. All grades and among most students who were learning in person lost the least ground academically, it found. It said math had the biggest impact while all subjects had been affected.

From the 2018 to the 2020 academic year, the proficiency percentage for students with high needs dropped 16.8%. That percentage for students without high needs dropped 21.3%.

RELATED: Report shows impact of pandemic on students' performance

Pasquale Cirone is the executive director of the Huntington Learning Center in Simsbury. He said they typically notice an increase in enrollment in the fall after summer. Now, he said the learning loss recovery takes more time.

“We can clearly see it in math because it’s just a lot easier to measure,” he said.

He said math is one of those subjects where, if the student gets stuck in one area, it can impact the rest. It’s a subject that builds upon prior lessons. During the pandemic, he said that fundamental emphasis was not instructed as well. 

When it comes to the way in which students learn, the report says hybrid and remote models showed "substantially weaker achievement and growth."

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Cirone said full in-person learning will help, but said there has to be an emphasis on the lost ground.

“There has to be some extra effort that has to be done to kind of fix or fill in those gaps,” he said. “Part of the problem in the last few years, it’s not enough practice.”

The executive director also said there seem to be emotional problems holding kids back. He said they lack the motivation to do better because they see they are behind.

The report also looked into how ready 11th and 12th graders were for standardized tests. About 6% fewer students met a college and career readiness standard on the SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or CT SAT School Day exams.

Cirone, again, said that is not a surprise.

“What they will do sometimes is nothing, unfortunately. They may feel like it’s such a golf between where they are now to the score that they want that they will just go test optional,” he said.

RELATED: Hartford Public Schools hold vaccination clinics as 'mask optional' policy goes into effect

The report also looked at Connecticut enrollment and found it declined again by nearly 3%. Enrollment is becoming more diverse as well as an increase in non-white educators.

The absentee rate of missing 10% or more of the total number of days in school increased from 12.2% to 19%. Graduation rates did increase from 85.5% in 2013 to 88.8% in 2020. 

Cirone said there are things families can do at home to help improve students’ education. Get back into a routine of reading. When it comes to math, he said that may be challenging for families. He advises people to seek help from tutors or their school district. Also having a structure, a quiet place to work and set time, can help.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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