The anticipated erosion of learning gains in math indicates how dramatically COVID-19 school closures and distance learning are impacting academic progress.

A new report from the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit educational assessment organization, predicts the COVID slide will see students in some grades losing more than 50% of math learning gains by the time they return to studies in the fall.

That would put students “nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions,” the study says. If educational disruptions continue in the fall, achievement levels will slide even further.

It’s a significant problem for all students, especially high school students hoping to be accepted by a top college or university, and middle school students planning to attend a prestigious private or independent school.

High school students will head into the late summer and fall SAT and ACT test dates significantly behind where they would have been if not for the impact of COVID. Middle school students will experience a similar disadvantage heading into fall 2020 SSAT exam dates.

Despite the uncertain environment in which some colleges are dropping the SAT or ACT requirement, or going test optional, the debate about the fairness and importance of the admissions tests is far from simple or over. Notably for students with high aspirations, many top colleges still require the SAT or ACT or recommend taking one of the admissions tests. Other top colleges may not require them but will certainly consider them. What was true pre-COVID will remain true during COVID and post COVID: high test scores will aid admission to top Universities.

Given a separate but related debate about the efficacy of basing admissions largely on grades—what an “A” means varies school to school—the admissions tests provide students with a quantifiable and trusted way to distinguish themselves.

Whatever happens with test requirements, the rigorous nature of admissions standards will not ultimately change. In that context, the critical problem of the slide in math skills comes into clearer focus. Consider the following implications:

  • A college-bound high school student who took pre-calculus in the academic year that just ended will move into calculus in the fall woefully underprepared.
  • Teachers may adjust by starting with a more intensive review which will cut off further learning on the back end of the course. Students who have fallen behind risk seeing their grades suffer.  If there is grade inflation to compensate for the impact of COVID some students may achieve good grades that mask insufficient learning and progress.
  • Grade inflation will always eventually be unmasked. If that happens during freshman year of college—when everything is suddenly more difficult, even for top students—college studies and overall marks could be threatened.
  • Those factors taken together indicate there’s a dangerous potential domino effect to the COVID slide in math and other academic subjects.

Fortunately for both middle and high school students, the solution is simple: take advantage of expert math tutoring this summer to catch up, reverse the COVID-19 slide, and get back on track to earn top grades, score highly on admissions tests, and secure the acceptance letters from the schools on your list.

Bulldog Tutors’ Ivy League educated tutors and admissions specialists are positioned to expertly help middle school and high school students prep for the SSAT, SAT and ACT, as well as navigating school admissions processes in an optimal way.

Email [email protected] or use the chat feature on our website,, to discuss your needs and make a plan for success.

Our tutors and admissions specialists, who offer a personalized and professional experience, can work effectively and remotely with students via Zoom and other digital tools. As Connecticut reopens for business, we will carefully and safely return to limited classroom experiences that reflect social distance and other precautionary measures.