Remote Learning

Parents and Students Worried about Readiness for School and Work

"Busy work" was the way most students and parents might classify K-12 instruction last spring, during the first spate of remote education. In a survey most students (80 percent) said they had more work to do at least some days in their remote settings than they had in their traditional classrooms. However, two-thirds off parents (67 percent), six in 10 students (60 percent) and almost all teachers (94 percent) said that assignments were either "new and easy" or "something already learned [or taught]." Students were six times more likely than teachers to say that assignments were "new and hard" (40 percent compared to six percent).

Parents and Students Worried about Readiness for School and Work

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Done by nonprofit Cognia the survey took responses from 74,116 people, including students, parents and teachers from around the world. Most respondents--58,555--were in the United States. Cognia, based in Atlanta, focuses on school improvement and accreditation. The organization's Innovation Lab ran three separate surveys between late April and late June 2020, to identify how students, parents and teachers were dealing with the shift to remote learning during the pandemic. The surveys sought to understand impacts personal, academic and emotional on each of the groups and on schooling.

Both parents and students said they were worried that students wouldn't be fully prepared for the next grade or for college or work. Fifty-seven percent of parents reported that they were worried at least some of the time about their children's preparation moving forward. And 61 percent of students said that, "most days" or "some days", they were worried about not being prepared for the next year of school. That was less of a concern for elementary students (54 percent) versus middle schoolers (63 percent) and high schoolers (67 percent). Yet, teachers weren't as worried. Eighty-two percent said they were confident that "most of the time" their instruction was helping students prepare for the coming year.

Seven in 10 students (71 percent) and eight in 10 parents agreed that students felt lonely at least some of the time. Two-thirds of students (68 percent) also reported missing school some or most days. And nine in 10 students also said that they wished they had said goodbye to their classmates and teachers.

Likewise, teachers also reported feeling "disconnected." Most also said they felt cut off from the workplace and their fellow educators (99 percent), missed school life (99 percent), missed students and school events (96 percent) and missed their colleagues (90 percent). Almost everyone in the teacher role agreed to some extent that they had to learn new skills (mentioned by 98 percent of teachers) and 42 percent said that teaching remotely "was harder" than they expected. Seven in 10 said they spent more time preparing their instructional activities than they did for their face-to-face classes.

"In the sudden shift to remote learning environments, everything about schools--the standard routines, schedules, norms, practices, and expectations--was upended," said Mark Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia, in a statement. "Teachers had to adapt their instruction to a new learning modality, explore entirely new ways of teaching and scheduling, and be constantly available to address the social and emotional needs of students and parents. This came at a cost not only to the tens of thousands of students who could not get online and are falling further behind, but also to all students who received a lot of busy work."

He added that in this current school year the "the first order of business for schools" was to help teachers address "the four Rs":

  • Rigor, by providing more professional development, "to help teachers adapt to online instruction and set expectations, introduce digital learning content and tools, redesign instruction and to enable teachers to spend more time with students without being in their presence";

  • Routines, by creating structures for learning and setting expectations, "putting students in motion towards self-directed learning and group learning";

  • Relationships, by emphasizing "peer learning and collaboration among teachers to help teachers feel connected to school and each other, and to support improved practice in online learning" and by engaging students and parents in the learning process and "fostering the social-emotional well-being of students, parents, and teachers"; and

  • Resources, making sure that all teachers and students have the technology and internet connectivity they need for digital learning.

A summary of key findings is available with registration on the Cognia website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.