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New Data Highlight Disparities In Students Learning In Person

Anya Kamenetz, NPR |

The U.S. Education Department has released the first in a series of school surveys intended to provide a national view of learning during the pandemic. It reveals that the percentage of students who are still attending school virtually may be higher than previously understood.

As of January and early February of this year, 44% of elementary students and 48% of middle school students in the survey remained fully remote. And the survey found large differences by race: 69% of Asian, 58% of Black and 57% of Hispanic fourth graders were learning entirely remotely, while just 27% of White students were. Conversely, nearly half of white fourth-graders were learning full-time in person, compared with just 15% of Asian, 28% of Black and 33% of Hispanic fourth-graders. The remainder had hybrid schedules.

The Education Department created the survey in response to an executive action signed by President Biden on his first full day in office. To obtain results quickly, researchers used the existing infrastructure of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the testing program also known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

2021_school_survey

New results will be reported monthly through at least July. The results are intended to provide context for The Nation’s Report Card in 2022, and state tests, which the Biden administration is requiring this year.

The survey is also intended to pinpoint inequities. For example, among the other key findings: More than 4 in 10 districts said they were giving priority to students with disabilities for in-person instruction. Yet in practice, 39% of elementary students with disabilities remained remote, compared with 44% overall. Many families of students with disabilities have said that their children receive limited benefit from virtual learning.

This survey covers a nationally representative sample of around 7,000 schools, half of which were educating fourth-graders and the other half educating eighth-graders (those being grades included in The Nation’s Report Card testing). The response rate to this nationally representative survey varied around the country and was lowest in the Northeast. Notably, out of 27 large urban districts targeted in the survey, 16 declined to participate.

https://www.npr.org/2021/03/24/980592512/new-data-highlight-disparities-in-students-learning-in-person

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