Virtual School Meanderings

August 5, 2022

New Data from NCES: School Experiences with COVID-19: June 2022

There are likely some ramifications related to remote learning and online learning in this data.

 Institute of Education Sciences

New Data from NCES: School Experiences with COVID-19: June 2022

schoolsurveyThe National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) releases today the latest round of findings from the School Pulse Panel (SPP). These SPP data examine learning recovery, summer learning, staff vacancies, COVID-19 mitigation strategies, learning modes offered by schools, and student and staff quarantine prevalence, as reported by school leaders in U.S. public schools.

Key Findings

Learning Loss and Recovery Efforts

  • Public school leaders estimated that nearly half of their students (50 percent) began the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, which is 14 points higher than the percentage of students they estimated to be behind grade level in at least one academic subject at the beginning of a typical school year before the pandemic began (36 percent).
    • Of those schools that reported having students starting the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject, 64 percent believed that the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role as to why students were behind grade level at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
  • Public school leaders estimated that just over one-third of their students (36 percent) ended the 2021-22 school year behind grade level in at least one academic subject.
  • Public schools enacted a variety of strategies to support pandemic-related learning recovery for their students this year, including additional instruction, assessments, and peripheral supports.
    • The most common types of additional instruction used by public schools were remedial instruction (72 percent) and high-dosage tutoring (56 percent).
    • More than three-quarters of public schools used diagnostic (79 percent) and formative (76 percent) assessments.
    • The most common types of peripheral supports addressed student mental health and trauma (72 percent) and provided teacher professional development specifically focused on learning recovery (51 percent).

Summer Programs

  • This summer, the most prevalent types of summer programming in public schools are learning and enrichment programs run by the school or district (75 percent) and summer school (70 percent). Additionally, public schools are offering learning and enrichment programs run by a partner organization (49 percent) and bridge programs (34 percent).
    • Of those schools offering these programs, 33 percent increased learning enrichment programs run by the school or district, 32 percent increased summer school, 28 percent increased learning and enrichment programs run by a partner organization, and 30 percent increased bridge programs they are offering this summer, compared to summers prior to the start of the pandemic primarily to support pandemic-related learning recovery.

Staffing

  • On average, public schools reported having three teacher vacancies for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
    • In elementary schools, the most prevalent positions that need to be filled are general elementary (51 percent) and special education teachers (44 percent).
      • For elementary schools, school leaders anticipate that special education and ESL/bilingual education teachers will be the most difficult positions to fill, with 49 percent of schools and 42 percent of schools reporting it will be ‘very difficult’ to hire fully certified teachers in these areas, respectively.
    • In middle schools, the most prevalent positions that need to be filled are special education (54 percent), English/language arts (34 percent), and math teachers (30 percent).
      • For middle schools, school leaders also anticipate that biology or life sciences and special education teachers will be the most difficult positions to fill, with 57 percent reporting it will be ‘very difficult’ to hire fully certified teachers in both areas, respectively.
    • In high schools, the most prevalent positions that need to be filled are special education (51 percent), math (37 percent), and career/technical education teachers (32 percent).
      • For high schools, school leaders anticipate that physical sciences and math teachers will be the most difficult positions to fill, with 60 percent and 58 percent reporting it will be ‘very difficult’ to hire fully certified teachers in these areas, respectively.
  • Across all school levels, the most prevalent non-teaching staff positions that need to be filled are custodial staff (32 percent), transportation staff (29 percent) and mental health professionals (19 percent).
    • In line with the prevalence of these openings, public school leaders anticipate it will be the most difficult to hire transportation staff and custodial staff, with 61 percent and 46 percent reporting it will be very difficult to hire staff in these areas, respectively.

Learning Modes, Mitigation Strategies and Quarantine Prevalence

  • At the end of the 2021-22 school year, 15 percent of public schools required students and staff to wear masks while inside the school. This is down from March 2022, when 22 percent of public schools required students and 23 percent required staff to wear masks. This is also a large decline from January 2022, when 73 percent of public schools required students and 77 percent required staff to wear masks.
  • Schools continued to provide on-site COVID-19 testing for students (43 percent) and staff (51 percent) at the end of the 2021-22 school year. Sixteen percent of schools required daily symptom screening for students and 20 percent for staff at the end of the school year, compared to 22 percent of schools requiring daily symptom screening for students and 25 percent requiring daily symptom screening for staff in February 2022.
  • Thirty-four percent of public schools reported using Test to Stay (TTS) at the end of the 2021-22 school year, up from the 26 percent of public schools that reported using TTS in February 2022.
  • Comparing learning mode offerings at the end of the 2020-21 school year and the end of the 2021-22 school year:
    • In-person learning offerings were more prevalent (62 percent at the end of 2020-21 versus 98 percent at the end of 2021-22)
    • Remote learning offerings were less prevalent (40 percent at the end of 2020-21 versus 33 percent at the end of 2021-22)
    • Hybrid learning offerings were less prevalent (44 percent at the end of 2020-21 versus 10 percent at the end of 2021-22)
  • The percentage of public schools that reported having to quarantine students in June was 34 percent, a decline from the 47 percent that reporting having to quarantine students in May. Similarly, 24 percent of public schools required staff to quarantine in June, down from 35 percent in May.

The data released today can be found at the COVID-19 dashboard at https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation, statistics, and assessment.
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July 21, 2022

A Master Class of Pandemic Pedagogy in a Twitter Thread.

So this scrolled through my Twitter stream yesterday.  It was from an alternative private school in Austin, Texas.  The school itself is an interesting read – see https://www.abrome.com/ – but the reason I wanted to share this today was that this Twitter thread reads like a master class on how schools should have handled the pandemic.  Let me rephrase that, how ALL schools SHOULD have handled the pandemic.

You can access the original tweet at https://twitter.com/AbromeEd/status/1545758673242411009 and I have provided screen shots of the full thread below.




July 7, 2022

New Data from NCES: School Experiences with COVID-19: May 2022

I suspect the remote learning aspects of this item are of interest to readers of this space.

 Institute of Education Sciences

New Data from NCES: School Experiences with COVID-19: May 2022

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) releases today the latest round of findings from the School Pulse Panel (SPP). These SPP data examine student behavior in school, student and teacher absenteeism, the state of learning modes offered by schools, and student and staff quarantine prevalence, as reported by school leaders in U.S. public schools.

Key Findings

Student Behavior and Development

  • Public school leaders have seen a marked impact of the pandemic on their students’ socio-emotional and behavioral development. Eighty-seven percent of public schools agreed or strongly agreed that the pandemic has negatively impacted student socio-emotional development. Similarly, 83 percent of public schools agreed or strongly agreed that students’ behavioral development has been negatively impacted.
  • The following student behaviors were most frequently reported as having increased during the 2021–22 school year (compared to a typical school year before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering effects:
    • Classroom disruptions from student misconduct (56 percent)
    • Rowdiness outside of the classroom (49 percent)
    • Acts of disrespect towards teachers and staff (48 percent)
    • The prohibited use of electronic devices (42 percent)
  • Public schools reported needing more support for student and/or staff mental health (79 percent), training on supporting students’ socio-emotional development (70 percent), hiring of more staff (60 percent), and training on classroom management strategies (51 percent).

Student and Teacher Absenteeism and Need for Substitute Teachers

  • Schools across the country have seen a rise in chronic absenteeism. Compared to a typical school year prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 72 percent of U.S. public schools reported an increase in chronic absenteeism among their students. Compared to last school year (2020–21), 39 percent of public schools reported that chronic absenteeism has increased.
    • The average percent of chronically absent students reported by public school leaders during the 2021-22 school year was 17 percent.
  • Compared to a typical school year prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 72 percent of U.S. public schools reported an increase in teacher absences during the 2021–22 school year. Compared to last school year (2020–21), 49 percent of public schools reported that the rate of teacher absences had increased.
  • Seventy-seven percent of public schools reported that it has been more difficult to find substitute teachers during the 2021–22 school year compared to years prior to the pandemic. Compared to the 2020–21 school year, 61 percent of public schools reported that finding substitute teachers is difficult.
  • Nearly all public schools (99 percent) reported not being able to always find substitute teachers when necessary. When substitutes cannot be found, public schools reported relying on administrators (74 percent), non-teaching staff (71 percent), and other teachers on their prep period (68 percent) to cover classes. Additionally, 51 percent of public schools reported combining separate classes into one room when they cannot find a substitute.
    • The use of these alternative coverage strategies is not uncommon; 59 percent of public schools reported “always” or “very frequently” having to use these strategies during the 2021–22 school year.

Learning Modes and Quarantine Prevalence

  • Nearly all (99 percent) public schools continued to offer full-time in-person learning, while 33 percent offered full-time remote learning and 9 percent offered hybrid learning. This has been a consistent trend throughout the 2021–22 school year.
  • For the first time since quarantine data were collected in January, both student and staff quarantine prevalence have increased from the prior month. In May, 47 percent of public schools reported having at least one student in quarantine (compared to 30 percent in April), with the average number of students in quarantine at eight (compared to six students in April).
  • Thirty-five percent of public schools reported having at least one staff member in quarantine (compared to 15 percent in April), with the average number of staff in quarantine at two (compared to one staff member in April).

The data released today can be found at the COVID-19 dashboard at https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation, statistics, and assessment.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

June 1, 2022

TechTrends – ToC Alert

No K-12 distance, online, and/or blended learning items in this issue, but some interesting pieces all the same.

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Computer Science Education
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Column: Editor’s Notes
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Open Access
 
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Carmen Richardson, Danah Henriksen, Rohit Mehta, Punya Mishra
 
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Jacob Koressel, Anne Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Katie Jantaraweragul, Minji Jeon, Jayce Warner, Matthew Brown
 
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May 18, 2022

Who Do I See About This?

So in the report entitled Understanding Pandemic Pedagogy: Differences Between Emergency Remote, Remote, and Online Teaching that I wrote with a variety of co-authors back in December 2020, we outlined the following information:

Many have also called for schools, districts, and systems to engage in planning for instructional continuity through distance and online learning to address longer school closures for the past decade. Barbour (2010) illustrated the planning required for remote teaching when he wrote:

in Singapore online and blended learning was so pervasive that teaching in online and virtual environments was a required course in their teacher education programs and schools are annually closed for week-long periods to prepare the K-12 system for pandemic or natural disaster forced closures. (p. 310). In fact, the use of distance learning to address issues of instructional continuity during a pandemic is not a new concept. McCracken (2020) described how during the Spanish flu pandemic the telephone – a technology only 40 years old at the time – was being used for high school students in Long Beach. According to the author, “the fact that California students were using it as an educational device was so novel that it made the papers” (para. 2).

Another example was the polio epidemic in New Zealand in 1948, which closed all of that country’s schools (Te Kura, 2018). At the time the Correspondence School – now Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – used traditional correspondence education to send lessons to every household, as well as using educational radio to broadcast lessons during the first semester of the school year.

More recently, Barbour et al. (2011) reported that following high levels of absenteeism during the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009, a number of private schools in Boliva developed their own virtual classrooms and trained teachers on how to teach in that environment. The report specifically noted that this trend did not translate within the public school system as it had in places like Hong Kong and Singapore. With respect to Hong Kong, Alpert (2011) described how online learning helped facilitate continued access to instruction in 2003 when schools had to close due to the SARS outbreak. While the SARS closure was consistent with the emergency remote teaching we have seen in North America with the current COVD-19 pandemic, following the outbreak school began to implement planning for a more formal use of online learning for future school disruptions. This planning was evident during the H1N1 outbreak in 2008, when 9 remote teaching allowed approximately 560,000 to continue learning during that pandemic induced school closure (Latchem & Jung, 2009).

Extended school closures due to pandemics have not been the only potential source of guidance. For example, a school or district could use the lessons learned in a case described by Mackey et al. (2012), who outlined “the immediate post-earthquake challenges of redesigning courses using different blends of face-to-face and online activities to meet the needs of on-campus, regional campus, and distance pre-service teacher education students” (p. 122), to plan for remote teaching. Rush et al. (2016) described many of the aspects that schools should plan for in case they found themselves in the position of having to transition to remote teaching to “sustaining school operations when a disaster makes school buildings inaccessible or inoperable for an extended period of time” (p. 188). The list of topics included issues surrounding connectivity, device distribution, teacher preparation, instructional modalities, content creation/curation, etc.. While only published in April of this year, using interviews and focus groups conducted in 2017 and 2018, Schwartz et al. (2020) described the lessons learned following the 2017 hurricane season on how distance learning could be used as “a way to continue instruction in emergencies and can support social distancing” (p. 2). Simply put, the potential to use distance and online mediums to transition remote teaching to ensure continuity of learning in both the short-term and long- term has been a key strategy, and one that researchers have studied. (pp. 8-9)

At the time I thought I was clever, particularly given that I was the Barbour that was cited above.  But a couple of days ago, my colleague Chuck Hodges was looking through the National Education Technology Plan from 2017 and he tweeted this:

[the actual image he included is below]

Yesterday I asked him if he knew where to find older plans and shortly thereafter he responded, and told me to look on pages xix and 47 of the 2010 National Education Technology Plan.

3.5 Develop a teaching force skilled in online instruction.

As online learning becomes an increasingly important part of our education system, we need to provide online and blended learning experiences that are more participatory and personalized and that embody best practices for engaging all students. This creates both the need and opportunity for educators who are skilled in instructional design and knowledgeable about emerging technologies. Crucial to filling this need while ensuring effective teaching are appropriate standards for online courses and teaching and a new way of approaching online teacher certification. (p. xix)

Growing Demand for Skilled Online Instruction

As online learning becomes an increasingly important part of our education system at all levels, this creates both the need and opportunity for educators who are skilled in online instruction and the demand for greater knowledge of the most effective practices. As we implement online learning, we should make sure that students’ learning experiences address the full range of expertise and competencies as reflected in standards and use meaningful assessments of the target competencies. Crucial to filling this need while ensuring effective teaching are appropriate standards for online courses and teaching, and a new way of approaching online teacher certification that functions across state lines. (p. 47)

So as early as 2010 the US Department of Education were calling on teacher education programs to ensure that pre-service and in-service teachers were capable of online instruction.

Yet, even today – after three school years of pandemic-induced disruptions – can we honestly say that teachers are capable enough with online instruction that they could have their student in person on a Friday afternoon, be forced into remote teaching on Monday morning, and still provide the same quality of learning experience to their students?

So who do we see about the fact that teacher education has ignored, and many would argue is still ignoring, these calls for over a decade?

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