Tutors and teachers try to get students up to speed after remote learning

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 8:16 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 2:08 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Students in Vermont will start going back to school in about a month and some are more ready than others.

One of the first tests teachers will likely give students is one that determines the learning loss that took place during remote classes this spring. But they’re not the only educators busy playing catch-up.

“Academically, kids are going to be all over the place, because the reality is kids were being supported in many different ways,” said Ashley Marlow, a third-grade teacher in the Colchester School District.

She says she’s looking forward to having her kids back this fall but is worried about how much of the spring semester she’ll need to take with her.

“I guess it started off with thinking about what do we need all students to learn, what do we need them to maintain,” said Marlow.

She says this is a key point that Colchester is keeping in mind looking ahead.

“Come fall, we have to keep that in mind, thinking about not watering it down, but thinking about what is the most important content that our students need in order to continue to be successful,” said Marlow.

The head of curriculum in Colchester, Gwen Carmolli, says that lesson plans in the spring were adjusted for remote learning and there will be some catching up come fall, but they are prepared.

“Are there some things that we need to make sure that we add into next year? So, let’s say you are in fourth grade and you’re heading into fifth grade, what are some things in fourth grade that we want to make sure we build some time in fifth grade that we may need to double up, that we need to add a little bit more or prioritize so that students have a chance to catch up,” said Carmolli.

She says Colchester has been running surveys in the district to get input from parents and families so they can make informed decisions about the coming school year.

Teachers aren’t the only educators helping students learn, tutors are keeping busy as well. Although we’re told about the same number of students were getting tutors this spring as previously, tutors are seeing a shift in the students they were seeing.

“There was sort of a balancing out, losing some students for various reasons, picking up some that needed that extra help,” said Connie Kent, a business manager with Walker Tutoring Services in Burlington.

Kent says during the height of the pandemic, many students weren’t learning new material and were instead doing review work. Kent says that means new lessons in the near future could present challenges.

“This fall, as students need to progress through their curriculum, if they do end up having to go online again, I am imagining that it will be a bit more rigorous than it was in the spring. And so I anticipate we might see an uptick in students, but again, we don’t know,” said Kent.

Teachers say tutors aren’t alone in helping kids get extra studies in. Marlow says she’s going to meet her students where they are.

“But specifically related to the academics, if you have concerns, bring it up to your teacher. I can tell you the teachers, the school systems will be doing assessments right off the bat to get a picture of -- this is where we are at and this is where we need to go,” said Marlow.

She says that school districts know that this isn’t going to be a typical school year, but teachers are ready to make adjustments as needed.

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