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Data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools shows the impact of distance learning: lower academic performance and reduced socioeconomic mobility

How has distance learning impacted children’s academic performance?

Using test data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools in 49 states and Washington, DC, the researchers examined the role of distance and hybrid education in widening attainment gaps — and dissected the results by race and school poverty. “We find that distance learning was a key reason for widening the attainment gap,” said.

The math performance gap did not widen in face-to-face areas, although there was some decrease in reading. “We estimate that high-poverty counties that are remote in 2020-21 will need to allocate almost all of their federal aid to academic recovery to help students recover from pandemic-related performance losses,” the paper added.

The report, which compared academic data from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020 to that from Fall 2017 to Fall 2019, also issued a strong warning against distance learning for children: “If such losses are allowed to become permanent, they will have a significant impact on future revenues.” and have intergenerational mobility,” the researchers concluded. (Intergenerational mobility refers to a generation’s ability to achieve better socio-economic outcomes than previous generations.)

The report was a collaboration between the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, NWEA, a nonprofit organization that produces academic assessments for pre-K-12 students, and the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) on American research institutes.

Source: CEPR, CALDER, NWEA

Public health and education workers have long been concerned about the impact of school closures on children’s learning well-being, and education advocates at the start of the pandemic questioned how children in poorer families could learn remotely when they don’t have computers, how some states have been hasty in increasing supply.

In the first year of the pandemic, 59% of lower-income US parents said their child might encounter digital obstacles with schoolwork, reported the Pew Research Center, a think tank based in Washington, DC. The latest study could make sobering reading for parents as COVID-19 cases surge again in the US

Another factor not unrelated to school performance: the school closures related to COVID-19 took a toll on children’s mental health and also put pressure on their parents, who are more likely to lose their temper, a paper published earlier this year by researchers from Duke University and Columbia University.

A school or childcare break increased the proportion of parents who said their children were “partially or much” uncooperative today by 9.1 percentage points, “a notable increase” from a baseline rate of 14.1%, it said. The effect was greater for non-Hispanic white children (11.9 percentage points) than for non-Hispanic black children (6.8 percentage points).

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/data-from-2-1-million-students-in-10-000-schools-reveal-the-impact-of-remote-learning-on-academic-achievement-11652118143?rss=1&siteid=rss Data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools shows the impact of distance learning: lower academic performance and reduced socioeconomic mobility

Brian Lowry

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