‘Above a Third’ of Students Fall Behind During Zoom School Year

Cam Eaton, 9, works on a Chromebook during home schooling on March 18, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York. Schools in New Rochelle, a hot spot in the U.S. for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, were suspended on March 13, and parents have been tasked with carrying out distance learning programs …
John Moore/Getty Images

A significant number of students across the country fell behind as ill-equipped school districts attempted to teach them over Zoom and other virtual platforms.

WUFT reported “above a third” of students in the Alachua County, Florida district fell behind in what was called coronavirus pandemic-related “learning loss.”

“It’s just hard when you’re sitting at home, looking into a screen, you don’t know your classmates,” parent Jenni Van Hart told the news station. “It’s been hard as a parent to see her struggle and cry.”

Van Hart said her daughter went from a straight-A student to “barely passing every class during the pandemic.”

Gainesville High School teacher Kelley Serravalle wondered if the students were actually doing the work themselves:

As a tech savvy 29-year-old, Serravalle mastered a whole system to teach remotely and help panicky veteran teachers adjust. Her usual creative, hands-on teaching methods rendered obsolete online and in person as students couldn’t share materials for projects.

Serravalle’s gradebook uncovered a disparity among her students. Homework grades were high; online students’ exam scores were low.

She graded and asked: “OK, did they cheat on this? Because their work doesn’t show any work anywhere but they got the right answer, but they have no idea how to explain it to me?”

She said some students “went from missing lessons to disappearing” altogether.

“I don’t see the motivation,” Fort Clarke Middle School teacher Tamela Craig said. “I don’t see the output in completing assignments. I don’t see it different even in children who are attending brick and mortar.”

Craig said teachers were responsible for teaching some students in person, while others remotely.

Few, if any, states or schools opted to partner with existing online school providers to best educate at-home students. At the risk of losing money and power, school districts instead chose to make in-person teachers remote instructors as well.

“It just wasn’t a wonderful idea for the educators who had to do two jobs and get paid for one,” Craig told WUFT.

Mandated student assessments — which are used to determine student progress and systemic success —  were suspended last academic year after many school districts switched to remote learning in the final weeks of the 2019-2020 year.

Some states, such as Michigan, attempted to get out of standardized tests again this year, but the state’s request was denied by the federal Department of Education, according to the Associated Press.

“State education officials instead wanted to focus on other metrics for academic progress and support students emotionally during a disrupted academic year,” it reported.

“With its decision today to deny Michigan’s request to waive M-STEP testing in the midst of the pandemic, USED continues to demonstrate its disconnect from conditions in public schools in Michigan and across the country,” state Superintendent Michael Rice said in April.

Rice said time “should be dedicated to children’s social-emotional and academic growth” as opposed to assessing where they stand academically.

“We found that the learning loss experience was quite pervasive, that almost all students were negatively impacted by the pandemic and pivot to remote learning,” Stanford University researcher Margaret Raymond told ABC News in January.

One in three teachers in high-poverty schools reported students were “significantly” behind.

“If these kids are losing this much learning in just a brief period of time, you have to plan that the recovery time here is going to be years,” Raymond said.

Kyle Olson is a reporter for Breitbart News. He is also host of “The Kyle Olson Show,” syndicated on Michigan radio stations on Saturdays–download full podcast episodes. Follow him on Parler.


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