Angel Hope looked at the math test and felt lost. He had just graduated near the top of his high school class, winning scholarships from prestigious colleges. But on this test — a UW-Madison exam that measures what new students learned in high school — all he could do was guess.
It was like the disruption of the pandemic was catching up to him all at once.
Nearly a third of Hope’s high school career was spent at home, in virtual classes that were hard to follow and easy to brush aside. Some days he skipped school to work extra hours at his job. Some days he played games with his brother and sister. Other days he just stayed in bed.
Algebra got little of his attention, but his teachers kept giving him good grades amid a schoolwide push for leniency.
“It was like school was optional. It wasn’t a mandatory thing,” said Hope, 18, of Milwaukee. “I feel like I didn’t really learn anything.”