MEK’s MLC Program in Post-Pandemic Education
The Covid-19 pandemic has largely affected the public education landscape in the United States. Students had to grapple with the unprecedented, large-scale shift from in-person to online classes, which posed setbacks in their ability to learn and led to mental health challenges. Staff shortages in schools are still an ongoing problem, stretching teachers thin and giving them less time and fewer resources to dedicate to their students. In the post-pandemic era, educators, parents, and students are grappling with the aftermath.
Read about the current state of public education and how MEK’s MLC program can help students get back on track with their classroom learning and give them the confidence to excel!
Effects of the Pandemic on Math and Reading
For students, test scores and learning rates have dropped significantly due to Covid-19. According to an article from McKinsey, by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, students in grades 1-6 were, on average, 5 months behind in math and 4 months behind in reading compared to the pre-covid months of the 2019-2020 school year.
The NYT predicts it will take 3-5 years for elementary and middle school students to recover from the effects of the pandemic on their education, and by then, federal money for interventions will have run out. Middle school students have especially been hit hard by the pandemic, likely due to the tougher course material and concepts covered in their curricula which parents cannot as easily help with.
The effects of the pandemic on public school education have parents worried about their children. In a survey McKinsey conducted of thousands of parents in the United States, ~80% were concerned about their children’s mental health since the start of the pandemic. 35% of parents were “very” or “extremely” concerned. This concern is present for students of all ages, in all grades. Mental health struggles can hinder students’ ability to learn, complete their homework, and consistently attend classes, thereby negatively affecting academic performance.
The Benefits of Tutoring in Addressing Pandemic Learning Loss
Tutoring programs have shown promise in helping students recover the education they lost during the pandemic. In one case, the North Clinton Elementary School in Clinton, Tennessee benefitted from a state tutoring program for reading comprehension, which resulted in 50% of students at the school going from “behind” at their grade-level to “on track”.
In pre-Covid-19 times and still now, tutoring is often seen as something remedial and only for students who are struggling in the classroom. However, studies have shown tutoring benefits all students, even if they are keeping up with class material.
The Math Corps Tutoring RCT program provided tutoring to 9th-12th graders in Chicago schools. Students were not necessarily struggling in their courses. Math scores improved and course failures decreased by 50%.
Not all tutoring programs have worked. An article cites the “America Reads” volunteer literacy tutoring program and educational assistance offered by the No Child Left Behind Act, both of which did not yield consistent benefits for students. In addition to the lack of well-trained staff, the tutoring sessions were provided inconsistently and infrequently in groups of 5+ students. The covered material also did not align with the student’s school learning.
What separates successful from unsuccessful tutoring programs?
Experienced, well-trained teachers and tutors
For tutoring programs to succeed, the tutors should be well-trained and knowledgeable about how to work with students on course material. For this reason, current or retired classroom teachers are ideal tutors.
Small group sessions
Keeping the number of students in a session to a single digit helps tutors focus on each student so nobody falls behind. Small group settings also help each student develop a relationship with the tutor, which helps them reap the benefits.
Scheduled on a consistent basis (weekly, daily…)
Regular tutoring sessions help keep material fresh in students’ minds. Offering sessions consistently also ensures the concepts covered in each session are up-to-date with what students are learning in class. An ideal number of hours per week for tutoring sessions is 90 minutes.
Present material which aligns with the student’s school curriculum
In order for students to get the most out of tutoring sessions, the material covered in tutoring should be linked to what the students are learning in school.
How Our MEK Learning Circles Program Can Help Your Child
Our MEK Learning Circles program for 4th-8th graders focuses on helping students become confident, successful learners in the classroom. Our expert teachers work closely with students to map out their individual academic paths and set small, achievable milestones so each student can get to where they want to be.
Here’s how MLC enables students to take control of their academic progress!
Small Group Classes & Engaging Weekly Lectures
MLC students learn in small groups of less than 8 students, which helps each member of the class feel more comfortable with participating in class. The instructor can also provide personalized guidance for each student so nobody is left behind.
The structure of the weekly lectures, which are 90 minutes each, promotes student engagement. Throughout a lecture, the instructor calls on students to read definitions or text excerpts, to explain the process of solving questions and equations, and to share their thoughts on how to tackle new concepts.
MEK offers both virtual (standard) and in-person (enriched) classes for our MLC program. While the enriched courses allow for more group work and student engagement with their peers, the standard courses can better accommodate students with busy schedules.
Our MLC program is based on grade-appropriate CCSS guidelines for English Language Arts and Math. Assessments and tests are modeled after official NJSLA exams to ensure that students gain a solid grasp of the skills they need to succeed in the classroom.
For English, MEK’s MLC Critical Reading courses target state standard reading comprehension competencies such as identifying themes from a text and analyzing the reasoning behind the main claims of a text. Our MLC Writing courses target competencies such as creating evidence-based arguments and revising writing.
For Math, our MLC Operations & Number Sense courses focus on competencies related to understanding concepts and how to perform calculations effectively. The MLC Problem-Solving Math courses focus on competencies related to comprehending word problems and how to approach solving each problem.
Weekly Assessments & Cumulative Tests
During each weekly class, students complete timed assessments to practice their time-management skills while applying what they learned. This helps them prepare to succeed in quizzes and tests at school. After each assessment, the teacher immediately reviews the questions while they are still fresh in the students’ minds.
Every few weeks, students take a cumulative test, which covers all the material they’ve learned up until the test. Students will therefore develop a solid understand of every concept and know where they need help.
Regular Exercises With Immediate Feedback
To help students practice what they’ve learned in between their weekly classes, we provide them with exercises on Canvas, our easy-to-use online learning management system. Once students complete an exercise, they receive prompt feedback from their instructor. By knowing the types of questions they struggle on, students can prioritize certain concepts in their study sessions to work toward addressing their weaknesses.
MLC instructors hold office hours to meet one-on-one with students who have questions or want extra help. Students sign up for time slots through Canvas. These individual meetings help make sure every student understands the material covered in class and allows students to get the most out of the program.
The pandemic has shifted the state of public education, but MEK has evolved accordingly to address gaps in student learning. Help your child take charge of their academic journey early on so they can set themselves up for success in high school and beyond.
The first step in registering for an MLC class is taking a virtual MLC evaluation test. Your child can take it at any time as long as they submit the test before 11:59 PM on their scheduled day.
Upon completion, your child will receive our signature detailed score report and course recommendations from Ms. Binal Patel, Director of the MLC program.
We look forward to working with your child!