Virtual School Meanderings

June 11, 2021

New Evidence on Student Learning and Well-Being during COVID-19

This California-focused report may be of interest to some readers.

June 08, 2021

A new PACE report using data from the CORE Data Collaborative shows the cumulative effect of pandemic education, with students demonstrating a learning lag of approximately 2.5 months in both English language arts and math as of winter 2021. This research, conducted by Education Analytics, utilizes interim assessment data from approximately 100,000 students in Grades 3–8 in 19 California school districts.

These findings will likely come as no surprise, as teachers, families, and students had to find new ways to continue to teach and to learn at distance amid a global pandemic. But this report, which builds from an earlier PACE commentary, shows very serious equity implications: students who were economically disadvantaged, English learners, and Latinx students experienced greater learning lag than did students who were not in those groups. These results can inform decisions about the types of investments needed to offset the negative effects of COVID-19 on learning.

A new PACE report published in collaboration with Education Analytics presents findings from a well-being survey that was administered to roughly 32,000 students in Grades 4–12 in three California districts that are part of the CORE Data Collaborative.

Key findings for student well-being based on the survey results include lower ratings for personal and interpersonal well-being overall vs. school learning environment and home/online learning environment. While ratings for the latter improved from fall to winter across all grades, the results raise equity concerns. The authors urge educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to pay special attention to the needs of English learners, students with disabilities, students who receive free or reduced-price lunch, and students of color—all of whom, these results show, are more likely to have been adversely impacted by the pandemic and distance learning.

In Oakland, students and community leaders are embracing the idea of a restorative restart for the first few weeks of school in the fall—a period of time during which schools would purposefully address trauma and rebuild the relationships that suffered over the past year, instead of immediately diving into academic curriculum. In April 2020, the Oakland Unified School District school board passed a resolution prioritizing social-emotional well-being, mental health, and academic credit recovery. Consistent with the restorative restart approach, the resolution directs at least $9 million to be used to hire community school managers, conduct home visits or check-ins for every student, hire more staff to support mental and emotional well-being, create student and staff retreats, and provide interventions to reach students who are not on track to graduate.

In many school districts, online learning will outlive the pandemic: districts across the country are planning to offer online learning as an option to their students in the upcoming school year and beyond. One insight from distance learning during the pandemic has been that students need to be engaged with interactive, collaborative lessons to stay on track and feel connected to their school community. The article quotes PACE Director of Strategic Partnerships Alix Gallagher, who points out: “Teachers need support to figure out, how do we do those interactive things in this new environment? And if they didn’t do those interactive things before, they need to learn how.”

In an EdSource commentary, former superintendents and current leaders at California Education Partners Steven Kellner and Laura Schwalm offer guidance on how school leaders should focus unprecedented levels of federal and state funding to make a difference for students. Citing PACE research on the effect of COVID-19 on student learning, they urge against a return to “normal” this fall, which would be a disservice to students and families—especially to those who experienced the greatest hardships last year. Instead, the authors offer the following principles to guide district spending: (1) maintain focus on the needs of students who have fallen behind; (2) have a few big goals versus lots of small, less impactful ideas; (3) spend with sustainability in mind; and (4) allocate funds as close to students as possible.

In Case You Missed It

Improving Services for Students with Disabilities: The Opportunity and the Risk of Inaction

California faces the aftermath of COVID-19 with mounting concerns about its special education system. Several indicators, author Elizabeth Kozleski warns, point to imminent systemic stress. Students with disabilities had lower rates of active and passive engagement online than their peers as well as a disproportionate lack of participation in any form of distance education. Compensatory education may be required when there has been a denial or delay of individualized education plan services that has caused a student not to progress as expected. To avoid overwhelming systems, the prevention of complaints and early intervention is key.

Implementing a Restorative Restart by Planning for the Four Ts:
Time, Talent, Training, and Technology/Materials

After years of underfunding, PACE Director of Policy Research Jeannie Myung and PACE Executive Director Heather Hough write, many districts are finding themselves in the unfamiliar circumstance of having sizable financial resources to support recovery from a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Knowing the pressures facing educators and the level of burnout that many are experiencing, this commentary and a related report recommend that administrators and community stakeholders consider the Four Ts of school resourcing to ensure that the restorative actions are comprehensively and adequately funded to meet local needs: when planning for a restorative restart for fall 2021, consider investments in Time, Talent, Training, and Technology/Materials.

Unprecedented Times Provide Unprecedented Opportunity: Suburban Superintendents Reflect and Reimagine

In its wake, COVID-19 has exposed persistent inequities in our public school systems, suburban school districts not excluded. Yet Superintendents James Hammond and Sara Noguchi together with California Education Lab Executive Director Sherrie Reed argue that the pandemic has also created new opportunities and increased energy for focusing on equity, potentially leading to opportunities to reimagine and rebuild. From the digital divide to food insecurity to language gaps, student needs have been changing rapidly in suburban schools. But with flexible policy tools and an influx of funds, the postpandemic period offers the chance to address inequities and make long-term change.

Copyright © 2021 Policy Analysis for California Education, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in at our website or at our conferences.

Our mailing address is:

Policy Analysis for California Education

520 Galvez Mall
Suite 444

Stanford, CA 94305

June 7, 2021

Report – Divergent and Inequitable Teaching and Learning Pathways During (and Perhaps Beyond) the Pandemic: Key Findings from the American Educator Panels Spring 2021 COVID-19 Surveys

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 4:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been involved with a research effort on Canada – see CANeLearn’s Remote Learning Research Site – so I wanted to share this report with readers.

Divergent and Inequitable Teaching and Learning Pathways During (and Perhaps Beyond) the Pandemic

Key Findings from the American Educator Panels Spring 2021 COVID-19 Surveys

by Julia H. Kaufman, Melissa Kay Diliberti

Research Questions

  1. What were schools’ operational models—fully remote, fully in-person, or hybrid—during the majority of the 2020–2021 school year?
  2. What were instructional and student outcomes reported by teachers and principals for the 2020–2021 school year across schools using different operational models?
  3. What school health and safety measures did teachers and principals report implementing?
  4. What preferences and plans for remote learning in future school years did teachers and principals report?

The 2020–2021 school year has been like no other. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) schools across the United States have reduced in-person learning for students to a few days per week or have been physically closed for most of the school year. In this Data Note, researchers use surveys of teachers and principals to provide a picture of students’ learning experiences in K–12 schools that have adopted a variety of operational models (e.g., fully in-person, hybrid, fully remote) during the 2020–2021 school year.

The findings consistently indicate that remote schooling was associated with fewer instructional opportunities and potentially poorer student outcomes compared with in-person schooling. These outcomes include less teacher-reported curriculum coverage, more teacher-reported student absenteeism, and lower principal-reported achievement in mathematics and English language arts (ELA). Nevertheless, teachers and principals who have been in remote settings this school year appear to be far more comfortable with the idea of providing remote instruction in some form, even after the pandemic recedes. Taken together, these findings suggest that the pandemic has set schools on diverging pathways depending on whether they were mostly remote or in person over the course of this school year.

Using these findings, the authors make several recommendations to policymakers, school and district leaders, and researchers to support K–12 teaching and learning over the next several years.

Key Findings

  • K–12 schools’ operational models—fully remote, fully in-person, or hybrid—varied considerably in the 2020–2021 school year. Schools that were fully remote tended to serve higher percentages of students of color and low-income students.
  • Reported instructional time and curriculum coverage were significantly lower in schools that were fully remote.
  • Seventy-four percent of principals in fully remote schools estimated that their students’ average achievement in mathematics was below grade level in spring 2021, compared with 63 percent in hybrid settings and 46 percent in fully in-person settings.
  • Remote teachers’ estimates of student assignment incompletion and absenteeism were almost twice as high as those of teachers in fully in-person settings.
  • Although teachers in the highest-poverty schools and those with most students of color reported more student access to free tutoring, they were less likely to report access to reading specialists and one-on-one student-teacher meetings.
  • Nearly all schools providing any in-person instruction had at least some safety measures, such as masks, in place. However, teachers’ opinions about the necessity of safety measures varied depending on their schools’ operational models.
  • One-third of teachers who have taught fully remotely for the majority of the school year either indicated a preference to do some remote teaching in the future or otherwise had no preference.
  • One-third of schools reported plans to offer remote instruction to any student who wants it after the pandemic has passed. Schools that have been remote in 2020–2021 were more likely to be planning for remote options in future school years.


  • When making decisions about how to spend federal funds, district and school leaders should rely on multiple data points collected now and in the following school year, including those related to absenteeism, performance on formative assessments, and students’ potential nonacademic needs.
  • Researchers and policymakers should keep a close eye on instruction over the next school year to ensure that districts and schools have access to the right set of expertise and supports.
  • Researchers, policymakers, and district leaders should consider the extent to which the technologies that many educators have switched to over the course of the pandemic—and plan to continue using in a postpandemic era—support teaching and learning.
  • School districts and policymakers should reflect on the variety of regulatory decisions that could support or obstruct remote learning.
  • Federal and state policymakers should provide clear and consistent health and safety guidance to support school system decisionmaking.

Report – The FPEP-CSQ launches a media offensive against distance education

So this is another French language report that was brought to my attention due to an article with the title “Online education is harmful, according to FPEP-CSQ study.”  Now before I provide the information about the study in question, let’s examine what the study was based on.

1. After the COVID-19 pandemic, distance education should never be favored because it has a huge impact on children and teachers.

So the study wasn’t actually looking at distance education or online learning – it was looking at the emergency remote learning and remote learning that occurred over the past 14 months.  Basically, what they are saying is that the type of learning described below should not be favoured – and I would agree.

In contrast to experiences that are planned from the beginning and designed to be online, emergency remote teaching is a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances. It involves the use of fully remote teaching solutions for instruction or education that would otherwise be delivered primarily face-to-face and that will return to that format once the crisis or emergency has abated. The primary objective in these circumstances is not to re-create a robust educational ecosystem but rather to provide temporary access to instruction and instructional supports in a manner that is quick to set up and is reliably available during an emergency or crisis. When we understand emergency remote teaching in this manner, we can start to divorce it from “online learning.” (Barbour et al., 2020, p. 6)

Of course something that is temporary, only due to the crisis circumstances, and will be abandoned as soon as the crisis or emergency has abated that isn’t designed to re-create a robust educational ecosystem but rather to provide temporary access to instruction and instructional supports in a manner that is quick to set up and is reliably available during an emergency or crisis should not be favoured.  An idiot who argues otherwise is, well, an idiot!  The fact that these authors needed to conduct a study, and someone provided financial support for that study is the only real amazing part of this whole issue.

2. This is the conclusion of a study by the Federation of Private Education Personnel (FPEP), affiliated with the Centrale des unions du Québec (CSQ).

I said this before – many times, but it continues to be the most misunderstood aspect of the whole education discussion.  The purpose of a union is to protect the interest of its members.  Teachers were not trained as a part of their university preparation to teach at a distance.  The vast majority of teachers have not and were not provided professional development with how to teach at a distance.  While many school board have equipped schools, teachers and students with technology; that technology was not focused on equipping classrooms for distance or hybrid delivery or on the tools teachers would need to teach at a distance.  In this case teachers are the members of this union.  Of course the union is going to be against a method of educational delivery that their members were not provided adequate training or resources to undertake.  I suspect the pilots union would be against an airline introducing a new plane into their fleet that none of their existing pilots new how to fly, which was significantly different to operate than all of the planes in their existing fleet.  Again, any idiot who understand the purpose of a union would understand this.  Unfortunately, this nuance it generally lost on the media – and politicians too for that matter.

3. The FPEP study was carried out with 17 affiliated unions in a format of interviews with members of the teaching and support staff.

Do I need to say it again?  Teachers were not trained as a part of their university preparation to teach at a distance.  The vast majority of teachers have not and were not provided professional development with how to teach at a distance.  While many school board have equipped schools, teachers and students with technology; that technology was not focused on equipping classrooms for distance or hybrid delivery or on the tools teachers would need to teach at a distance.  Of course they’d be against it.  When you were a teenager you practiced for your driver’s test on your family car.  You’d have a negative opinion of the test and the testers if they made you take your driver test on an 18-wheel transport truck in a densely populated urban context!  Any idiot should understand this point.

So what you have is a study that asks a bunch of people who weren’t prepared to do something, how they felt that something compared to what they normally do, when they were forced to do that something against their will – and here is what that study found…

May 30, 2021

Press release

The screen disconnects us …

The FPEP-CSQ launches a media offensive against distance education

Montreal, May 30, 2021. – On the theme “The screen disconnects us, distance education has consequences”, the Federation of Private Education Personnel (FPEP-CSQ) is launching an offensive against the Minister of ‘Education, Jean-François Roberge, and the Federation of Private Educational Institutions (FEEP) so that they agree to mark out and limit the use of this practice.

The vice-president of the FPEP-CSQ, Marie-Josée Dallaire, specifies that her union federation wishes to quickly meet the Minister of Education as well as the management of the FEEP in order to inform them of the conclusions of the investigation into the distance education and measures that it is hoped will be adopted to regulate distance education.

“The health crisis plunged us overnight into distance education, without our having been able to think about ways of doing things and the possible impacts on both students and staff. Now is the time to learn lessons from this forced shift towards distance education before some institutions make the mistake of standardizing an approach that was supposed to be exceptional, ”explains Marie-Josée Dallaire.

A remedy that must remain exceptional

The FPEP-CSQ therefore intends to ask the Minister of Education to define and limit the use of distance education and to resist the multiple pretexts encouraging him to use it. “Our survey clearly shows that distance education has multiple consequences for students and education personnel. In this context, it should only be allowed in the case of exceptional circumstances, such as a pandemic. Otherwise, the Minister must stipulate that priority must be given at all times to traditional classroom education in the interests of student success and to guarantee fair, reasonable and humane working conditions for education personnel ”, to say the vice-president of the FPEP-CSQ.

Guidelines required from the Minister of Education

The FPEP-CSQ will therefore urge Minister Jean-François Roberge to take a position on this issue so that he sets out clear guidelines for the next school year.

“We do not exclude all use of technologies in education, far from it. But the experience of the last year has shown us that we should not take the path of distance education for just any reason or to please everyone’s demands, because it leads us to a dead end. As paradoxical as it may seem, distance education has the effect of disconnecting teachers and students and breaking a precious bond that promotes learning, ”argues Marie-Josée Dallaire.

The union leader ends by mentioning that we must therefore continue to seek together to find out and document the conditions under which technologies can have a positive impact on students’ academic engagement and success.

– 30 –

Profile of the FPEP-CSQ

The Federation of Private Education Personnel (FPEP-CSQ) has some 3,000 members in 48 unions and working in some 42 elementary, secondary and college schools in 10 regions of Quebec.


Claude Girard
Communication advisor
Cell. : 514 237-4432

I haven’t been able to find the full research report on their website, but I did find this…


The urgency to act!

Urgent action is needed on this issue, while a survey of FPEP-CSQ members clearly shows that distance education is not without consequences for students and staff.

The study was conducted over the past few months with 41 people, teachers and support staff working in private primary and secondary schools.

10 findings revealing the consequences of distance education on students and education personnel.

With the aim of initiating a reflection on the quality of student learning in the context of distance education, of detailing the transformation of the task among members, and of documenting the effects on working conditions, ten main findings emerge from this research:

  1. The teaching staff had to make a considerable effort to guarantee pedagogical continuity at a distance.
  2. Technology has not motivated students as much as research claims.
  3. Students need a lot of autonomy to follow.
  4. Classroom management has multiple consequences for academic success.
  5. The erosion of the teacher-student relationship is alarming.
  6. The task becomes heavier, becomes more complex to the point of generating a serious feeling of incompetence.
  7. Communications are duplicated and fragmented.
  8. Few establishments have imposed a code of conduct on parents and students who use technological platforms and tools for disseminating distance education.
  9. Overexposure to the screen creates a general feeling of fatigue.
  10. There is no longer a line between professional and personal life.

Let us campaign to mark out and limit the use of distance education!

Let us learn from the forced shift towards distance education.

Let us campaign to mark out and limit its use to exceptional circumstances (pandemic, for example), and thus guarantee fair and humane working conditions for education personnel.

To access research highlights, click here: Distance education has consequences

Did you miss the press conference presenting the research results?

Report – Cégep à distance : soutenir la motivation et la persévérance au collégial | Pratique inspirante

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As an FYI for my American readers, a Cégep is a form of schooling in the Canadian province of Quebec that students enroll in following grade 11, but before they head off to university or college.  Cégep provide a technical, academic, vocational or a mix of programs.  Within the province it is seen as a post-secondary option, but the reality is that it is like a grade 12 and, for some students, a grade 13.

Cégep à distance: supporting motivation and perseverance in college | Inspirational practice

To cite this dossier : CAPRES (2021). Perseverance in higher education . Online:

In recent years, the Cégep à distance has focused on the quality of the supervision offered to students by renewing the role of online tutoring (Rhéaume and Boisvert, 2019). Between summer 2017 and summer 2018, the establishment started a pilot project aimed at developing, experimenting and implementing new coaching strategies in order to offer more personalized support and thus promote commitment, motivation and perseverance of students ( ibid .).

As part of the project, the tutors have acquired the status of full-time professionals and their mandate is entirely dedicated to supporting students (Rhéaume, Facchin and Boisvert, 2018).

The tutors provide motivational and organizational help within the framework of a relationship of trust promoting a solid educational link with the student.

Rhéaume and Boisvert, 2019

Four fields of intervention

Within the project, the tutors intervene in four fields: reception, reminders, supervision and support as well as feedback.

1. Reception

Hospitality aims to break the ice, provide information essential to the course of the course and demystify the fact of taking a course entirely online. Registered students receive a personalized email with the “getting started on the right foot” kit:

Images: Cégep à distance

This starter kit contains, among other things, the availability of the tutor, the possible dates for a mandatory videoconference and the course schedule. The objectives of this welcome session are therefore to break the isolation of the students, to nourish their motivation, to promote their commitment (see the Key Notion sheet ), to encourage them to express their future difficulties, to take ownership of the learning process and directing them to the institution’s resources (administrative, technopedagogical, IT, etc.) (Rhéaume and Boisvert, 2019).

The videoconference lasts on average 20 to 30 minutes and the tutor presents in more detail the course of the course, the modules that compose it, the evaluations, etc.

This welcome session is also used to normalize the obstacles likely to be encountered during the session: anxiety, stress, demotivation, isolation, work overload, etc.

Rhéaume and Boisvert, 2019

By presenting the “reverse side of the screen”, the tutor establishes a first visual contact, which promotes a better pedagogical relationship and serves as a starting point for future written motivational interventions, in particular in the form of personalized reminders (Facchin et al. Boisvert, 2019).

2. The reminders

The reminders take place at key moments during the session in order to increase the motivation and commitment of the student in the course followed:

  • on the first assignment (35 days);
  • homework for which the grade is less than 70%;
  • around the date of the extension request / danger of abandonment;
  • around the date of registration for the exam.

The tutor creates a bank of model emails in order to increase their efficiency and provide complete and detailed answers to frequently asked questions related to the subject of the course (Chovino and Dallaire, 2018). Here is an example of a follow-up email:

Image: Cégep à distance

3 . Coaching and support

More specifically, supervising and supporting at a distance aims to meet the specific needs of students, whose profiles are increasingly heterogeneous (see the Issue sheet ). Different platforms and different technological tools thus make it possible to make telephone appointments and ensure personalized follow-up. From a perspective of empowerment, the student must prepare for his meeting with the tutor.

The supervision by the tutor is not, however, reduced to his ability to use a series of effective teaching tools: it comes from his determination to create a pedagogical link, to invest time not only in the learning of the students. , but also to take an interest in their socio-emotional issues (Facchin and Boisvert, 2019). In this sense, the student must be able to rely throughout the session on a pedagogical relationship of trust established by the various motivational interventions of the tutor.

4. Feedbacks

Feedback offered to the student can take different forms:

  • written (commenting on the work, for example);
  • audio (encourage, explain strengths and weaknesses, recall the support offered, invite to make an appointment, etc.);
  • video (explain the rubrics, offer computer support, give examples in mathematics, etc.).

Feedbacks are used to congratulate and encourage the student, to give him full visual explanations, to help him structure his thought, to reassure him or her, to remind him of the presence of help and to suggest an appointment. -you (Rhéaume and Boisvert, 2019).

The consequences

The pilot project study aimed to:

  • assess the effects of the coaching model on perseverance and success;
  • compare the performance and progress of learners in the pilot group and the control group;
  • assess student satisfaction with supervision.

The positive results of the pilot project begin to be visible in the winter of 2018, approximately halfway through the project. This can be explained by the experience acquired by the tutors after trial and error, but also because the welcome session for students became compulsory at that time. Among these results favorable to the pilot project, the analysis of academic performance shows that in winter 2018, 64% of participants passed their course, compared to 49% of students in the control group.

The results indicate that student engagement does indeed have an effect on the final course grade, which is higher when they participate in the welcome session in synchronous mode, receive video feedback and personalized interventions (Facchin and Boisvert, 2020). More specifically, on average, over the five sessions of the pilot project, 81% of participants in the welcome session hand in their first assignment, compared to 65% of students who did not participate (Rhéaume and Boisvert , 2019).

The student’s behavioral commitment (amount of effort, time, etc.) is the only variable that has a strong correlation with the final grade for all the courses included in the pilot project (Facchin and Boisvert, 2019) . It is therefore a very reliable indicator of success and of solid institutional value ( ibid .).

Regarding the satisfaction rate of the supervision received, it is around 90% (Rhéaume and Boisvert, 2019).

In summary, the following conclusions emerge from the pilot project:

  • the sense of self-efficacy and behavioral commitment are both linked to the grade obtained in the course;
  • behavioral engagement is an excellent indicator of academic performance in the pilot project;
  • interventions have an effect on behavioral engagement. The level is even higher in the pilot group than in the control group;
  • adapting to each learner and giving him or her what he or she needs promotes motivation, which is seen in more proactive behaviors (Facchin and Boisvert, 2019, p. 32).

Presence in the distance

In 2019, a more personalized version of the project saw the light of day, in which the reminders multiplied according to the needs of the students. Indeed, not all students want regular remote support; some need to be followed more closely, while others do well on their own. The tutors make it possible to put “presence in the distance” (Facchin and Boisvert, 2020) in order to keep the students engaged and persevering in their studies.

The new tutoring model, connecting the tutor and the student at the heart of the educational system, is now well established at Cégep à distance. Reminders received more attention in 2020-2021 and the effectiveness of the feedbacks will be reviewed in the near future.

June 2, 2021

COSTLY FAILURE: A new report by In the Public Interest on how California is overpaying for online charter schools that are failing students

Another item from the folks at In The Public Interest.  This is an interesting report – but not surprising given the regular news around profiteering and scandal related to the charter industry in general.  The general URL for the project website is

Online charter schools are California’s fasting growing education sector.

This report offers the first comprehensive assessment of the state’s online (“nonclassroom-based”) charter schools.

Next Page »

Blog at