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Math Tutoring to Combat COVID-19 Learning Loss

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 21, 2024
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Learning loss is a well-documented phenomenon – it’s the loss of academic knowledge and skills that happens when students aren’t actively engaged in learning. Learning loss often happens during school breaks (thus the common name “summer slide”). But according to the Regional Educational Laboratory Program, COVID-19 has caused students across the world to experience learning loss due to the suspension of in-person school. This issue must be addressed to avoid long-term academic challenges.

What is COVID-19 learning loss?

COVID-19 learning loss

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, learning loss mostly occurred during summer breaks. Students typically lose some percentage of reading and math skills over the summer. However, the pandemic caused many students to lose the equivalent of several months of school in addition to the typical summer slide.

In the spring of 2020, most schools shut down entirely due to mandated quarantines and lockdowns. Learning challenges continued for most of the 2020-2021 school year as schools switched to remote learning and/or hybrid in-person schedules. The lack of continuous in-person learning has been severely detrimental to many students, especially those who don’t have reliable access to online school (EducationWeek).

covid 19 learning loss

Who is affected by COVID-19 learning loss?

An October 2020 study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University estimated the effects of COVID on education during the spring of 2020. Statistics show that learning loss occurred despite the fact that students (theoretically) attended remote school online. According to the study, students lost an average of 136-232 days of math learning and 57-183 days of reading. Clearly, COVID had a particularly negative effect on students’ math skills.

A study from McKinsey & Company indicates that students lost an average of 1.5 months of learning in reading and three months of learning in math due to COVID. The McKinsey study also shows that COVID learning loss was even more pronounced among low-income and minority students. According to Brookings, this outcome may increase the existing long-term disparities between low- and high-achieving students.

COVID-19 learning loss

While the return to in-person learning can help students recover from the pandemic’s effect to a certain extent, COVID lockdowns have had another troubling effect: students not returning to school. A study by Bellwether Education Partners shows that an estimated 3 million students were not attending school in the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. If students can’t attend in-person classes or access remote learning materials, they will likely fall further behind and struggle to keep up with their peers.

Pandemic-related learning loss may be especially harmful when it comes to math. Thorough knowledge of foundational concepts is essential for students to truly understand higher-level material. Fortunately, tutoring seems to be an effective remedy for many students. A tutor can help students recover from COVID learning loss and enter the next school year prepared to succeed.

How can an online math tutor help students recover from learning loss?

online math tutoring

There are several ways that students can combat the effects of COVID learning loss. One of the best solutions is to hire an online math tutor.

1. One-on-one tutoring is proven to be effective.

While there are several different ways to help address and combat learning loss, tutoring is a tried-and-true method. There are countless studies that show tutoring is effective. For example, J-PAL North America recently released a summary showing that the positive impacts of tutoring programs are so significant they are equivalent to a student moving from the 50th percentile to the 66th.

2. Online tutoring is more accessible than in-person options.

People have been hiring tutors for centuries, and tutoring often occurs in person. However, in-person instruction is not always feasible due to location and scheduling difficulties. With COVID-related rules about gatherings and social distancing, it may be even more challenging to find a tutor who can meet in person.

Virtual programs address all the challenges of in-person tutoring. Students can have access to a qualified tutor through an online interface. A virtual tutoring service is available all the time, so scheduling is easy even for families with busy lives.

3. Students work with trained educational professionals.

According to an article from The University of Chicago, intensive, individualized tutoring can have exceptional results for high school math students. The study indicates that this “high-dosage” tutoring model can improve math grades, reduce course failures, and double or triple the amount of math that students learn in a year.

Most students learn more when working with a teacher or a subject matter expert than with a fellow student or a parent. In fact, the J-PAL study cited above found that tutoring services that employ teachers or paraprofessionals (such as undergrad students) are far more effective than those staffed by nonprofessional volunteers or parents. With an online math tutoring service like Learner, students get to work with highly trained and knowledgeable experts.

covid 19 learning loss

4. Online math tutoring is affordable.

One-on-one instruction from a reliable tutor is extremely effective, but it can also be expensive. Private tutors may charge over $100 per hour for an in-person session. This price may not fit in the budget for many families, especially those in lower income brackets where students have been hardest hit by COVID learning loss.

An online tutoring service is much more affordable. Most online services cost somewhere around $40 per hour. The price may vary depending on the math topics covered and the tutor’s professional qualifications.

5. A tutor provides customized, targeted instruction.

One of the biggest benefits of working with a tutor is the quality of instruction. Even the best math teachers are limited by the amount of class time and the number of students they need to teach. Plus, teachers need to follow a standardized curriculum. For many students, typical classroom instruction isn’t enough to create a solid understanding of math.

A tutor can tailor their instruction method to each student for optimal learning. Every student is different and has a unique learning style and specific things they need to work on. A tutor works with each student individually to figure out the best teaching method for every topic. This can help students develop a deep understanding of mathematical principles, which can improve homework and test scores and also lay a strong foundation for upper-level courses.

Hire an online math tutor to recover from COVID-19 learning loss

COVID-19 learning loss has put many students at an academic disadvantage, especially in terms of math. Fortunately, one-on-one math tutoring is an effective solution for learning loss. Online tutoring companies offers students an easy and affordable way to improve their math knowledge by working with experienced tutors online.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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