A mid-October Pew Research Center survey that compared taking an online-only course with an in-person one found that:

  • Just 30% said they “provide equal educational value.”
  • 68% said they do NOT.

So now imagine being one of the countless kids who, from mid-March to June, were tethered to a device for remote instruction and the many who still are.

We’ve known for some time that online instruction pales versus the real deal. Back in 2015 Stanford University researchers found a majority of virtual charter school students performed significantly worse than their traditional school peers, “the equivalent of not going to school for 40% of the year for reading and not going to school for an entire year in math.”

Ironically and despite such dismal performance, virtual charters—free to families, paid for by taxpayers–have enjoyed a COVID surge of their own. Enrollment at well-known K-12, Inc., for instance, has risen 57%.

The result of all this remote instruction?

The World Economic Forum reports that, “There is a real and present danger that the public health crisis will create a COVID generation who loses out on schooling and whose opportunities are permanently damaged.”

Middle school teacher Heather Mayfield put it this way: “At some point our systems are going to have to adjust to the fact that these kids were educated during the pandemic. It’s not just going to be two rough years in education. We’ll continue to see the effects of this until this year’s kindergartners graduate from high school.”

Face it: Keeping kids engaged virtually for hours every day is a huge ask. Moreover, some kids don’t even have access to a digital device and/or the Internet while others who do turn off their device’s camera, sight unseen.

Remote learning’s shortcomings were also noted in a recent Rand Corporation survey:

  • 66% of teachers said most of their students are less prepared for grade level work now than they were this time last year.
  • 56% of teachers said they’d covered 50% or less of the curriculum than they would have by this time last year.
  • Fully in-person teachers said 82% of their students turned in most/all of their work
  • Only 62% of the fully remote teachers could say the same thing.

And, although most of the 4.4 million recent NWEA MAP Growth test takers in grades 3 through 8 performed “about on par in reading,” they came in 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math than their fall 2019 peers.

Said NWEA CEO Chris Minnich, “… We’re used to being able to put the kids in the next grade. Are we going to be able to that, or is this a moment to think differently about what a previous grade level’s skills look like?”

Good question.

~ With my thanks and well wishes, Carol