The COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted the education of 98% of American students.
COVID-19 cases are still going up in 1 out of 3 states. The problem isn't going away.
Is the right to education impeded by remote learning?
COVID-19 Learning Loss
Summer learning loss, also called the summer slide, is a well-documented problem in K-12 education in which students lose academic progress over the summer months, which are usually the longest break from in-person education. Summer learning loss particularly affects students in under-resourced communities. COVID-19 school closures, most of which began in early March, have led to what is effectively an unusually long summer. Many students do not have the adequate space, internet, or computer access necessary in order to maintain an in-person standard of education. This is the covid-19 learning loss.
Negative Effects of Remote Learning
New research from NWEA, a nonprofit research organization, predicts major academic impacts from COVID-19 school closures for the average student, who will begin the next school year having lost as much as a third of the expected progress from the previous year in reading and half of the expected progress in math. To put it shortly, remote learning has the potential to severely disrupt the futures of all K-12 students affected.
Disproportionate Demographic Impacts
Even so, remote learning affects some students more than others. For example, when researchers from Brown and Harvard tracked performance since late April (after mass school closures) in an online math program, they found that student progress in math decreased by about half in classrooms located in low-income ZIP codes, by a third in classrooms in middle-income ZIP codes and not at all in classrooms in high-income ZIP codes. Survey data reveal why such discrepancies across income might exist. About a third of teachers in high-poverty schools described access issues (eg. access to computers) as a major limitation, and principals reported home internet access as the top issue limiting distance instruction.
Using federal open-source data (see About), we present interactive data visualizations to expose some of the many hidden barriers to remote education. We hope to reveal the location and severity of barriers such as lack of access to computers and quiet spaces. Our user-oriented and interpretable data visualizations are designed to help policymakers, administrators, and researchers understand institutional social failures are disrupting equal access to K-12 remote education. Questions our data probes:
- What obstacles to remote learning do students in the United States face?
- Which students are most affected by which barriers?
- How do multiple barriers, such as access to computers, access to internet, and access to study space, interact with each other?
- How might communities tackling COVID-19 take on obstacles to remote learning?