Students should redo core classes taken during virtual year to mitigate learning loss


Photo by Ellie Cowen

Senior Meghna Krishnan works in her AP Research class on Dec. 17. AP Seminar is Research’s prerequisite course, which Krishnan took her junior year virtually.

A student jumps as they hear the bell ring. The math test next period had been looming over their head for the past three days. Unaware of what was going on, they run to class, hoping to get in one last question. The teacher announces, “This test should be quick and easy as it is just a review of things that you learned last year.” As the tests get passed out, the student’s mind goes blank. When did we learn how to do this?

The 2020-2021 school year was a difficult one, to say the least. The combination of staring at a computer screen for hours, each class only twice a week, and all different kinds of distractions made for a poor learning environment and led to a lot of cheating with little learning. As a result this year, students’ grades are going down and stress is going up. 

Therefore, students should have had to redo prerequisite classes they took over the virtual year.

If students were given the option to retake the classes that they took last year, most would not take the opportunity. Due to the competitive nature of the community, students are taught from a young age that they need to take the hardest classes and get the best grades in order to get into college. Students would probably be irritated if they had to redo classes no matter how beneficial it would actually be to their future academic performance.

The MCPS graduation requirements are that each student must take four credits of English, one fine arts credit, 0.5 health credits, four math credits, one P.E. credit, three science credits, three history credits, and two credits from either world languages, technology, or 0.5 of a state-approved program. Within these requirements, there are some classes like health and tech that don’t have a class that builds on them the next year.  While those would not need to be retaken, there are classes like math and certain sciences built on instruction from prior years. 

Students don’t always make the best choices for their learning, and rather do whatever can help them have better grades and GPAs. If everyone had to retake classes, it wouldn’t be as stigmatized, and students wouldn’t feel like they were falling behind. There also would not be as much stress in current classes like math and world languages due to not knowing the basics from the year before.

Classes with prerequisites require students to have prior knowledge in order to do well. For example, students can’t build on something in math when they haven’t learned the step before, or the basics of how to start solving the problems. Having missing knowledge can lead to increased stress because it forces students to learn the topic on their own time on top of having to do that night’s homework.

Let’s hope MCPS learns from this stressful situation students and teachers are now in.