“I’d been looking forward to high school and it was so hyped up,” said West High School senior Alex Vakar. “It felt like this necessary period for growth because people always talk about them being the best days of their lives, and we missed out on half of that.”
Dances, sports, time with friends, theater performances — all of them were canceled or altered at some point over the past four years, and that’s just outside the classroom. The interruption to students’ learning was severe, and even while virtual learning was a positive for some, students noticed missing foundational pieces when they returned to in-person classes.
That environment faced a sudden change on the afternoon of March 13, 2020, as district officials announced an extended spring break, and later that afternoon Gov. Tony Evers closed schools statewide.
“Of course, we’re freshmen in high school, we’re like, ‘Let’s go! It’s an extra week!’” Mueller said. “Initially we were all just super excited for it because we didn’t know enough about it.”
No one knew how long it would last.
“When I heard that we were closing down and school was shutting down, I was in my geometry class and my teacher just said, ‘Hopefully I’ll see you next week,’” Vakar recalled.
Reality quickly set in, as the wait for a return kept being extended and the school district tried to formulate a plan to continue students’ learning. That spring, MMSD began virtual learning but switched to a “pass/no pass” grading system for high schoolers and froze grade point averages at their first semester level.
Vakar grew increasingly frustrated with MMSD as she saw peers in surrounding school districts return while Madison remained virtual. When Vakar returned in spring 2021 to a limited schedule at West, as the district phased in in-person instruction and a hybrid schedule, she noticed the differences from fall 2019: masking, one-way hallways and one class in which she “was completely alone with the teacher” while the rest of the class was on Zoom.
Dane County Madison Public Health Notes and links.
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?