Publication date: Sep 18, 2023
How did school closures affect student access to education and learning rates during the COVID-19 pandemic? How did teachers adapt to the new instructional contexts? To answer these questions, we distributed an online survey to Elementary School teachers (N = 911) in the United States and Canada at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Around 85. 8% of participants engaged in remote instruction, and nearly half had no previous experience teaching online. Overall, this transition was challenging for most teachers and more than 50% considered they were not as effective in the classroom during remote instruction and reported not being able to deliver all the curriculum expected for their grade. Despite the widespread access to digital technologies in our sample, nearly 65% of teachers observed a drop in class attendance. More than 50% of participants observed a decline in students’ academic performance, a growth in the gaps between low and high-performing students, and predicted long-term adverse effects. We also observed consistent effects of SES in teachers’ reports. The proportion of teachers reporting a drop in performance increases from 40% in classrooms with high-income students, to more than 70% in classrooms with low-income students. Students in lower-income households were almost twice less likely to have teachers with previous experience teaching online and almost twice less likely to receive support from adults with homeschooling. Overall, our data suggest the effects of the pandemic were not equally distributed.
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