Time Spent in Virtual Schooling Probably Didn't Meet State Thresholds
- By Dian Schaffhauser
much virtual schooling happened during the early months of the
pandemic? Less than what the laws in at least half of states say
students should be getting. That's what the Education
Commission of States
found when it analyzed data collected by the U.S.
in a "household
The Commission helps develop education policies across state lines
and shares resources and expertise among states.
Jun. 4 to Jun. 9, the survey asked people how much time their
children had spent in the previous week on learning activities, along
with questions about access to computers and the internet.
survey found that adults spent about eight hours on all teaching
activities with their school-age children during the prior week.
Children spent 7.9 hours that week learning on their own and an
additional 3.4 hours in direct contact with teachers. In other words,
students typically dedicated fewer than 20 hours a week on any
learning activities. As Commission researcher Claus von Zastrow
pointed out in
an article summarizing the findings,
that falls below the minimum number of instructional hours required
in at least 25
the national level, he added, "there weren't many consistent
differences by race, ethnicity or income." However, people in
households with incomes $200,000 and higher did appear to show some
big variations. There, the adults reported spending longer teaching
activities with their kids (9.2 hours), the students had more contact
with teachers (4.6 hours), and the children spent more time (10.3
hours) in their own learning activities.
90 percent of households told the surveyors that the internet "was
always or usually available to children for educational purposes,"
big gaps surfaced by race, ethnicity, household income and access to
nine in 10 people in households earning $150,000 said their children
always had access, just 50 percent of those in households earning
less than $35,000 said the same. And there was a 10-point difference
between White and Asian households and Black and Latinx household
reporting constant access (75 percent versus 65 percent).
households that said they "often" don't have enough to eat,
just 40 percent said they always had access to the internet and 37
percent said they always had access to devices. The survey found that
four percent of households didn't pay for internet access; they
received it from school districts or other outside sources.
Zastrow recommended that government and industry step in "to
extend or even intensify efforts to provide free or subsidized
internet and devices to those who need them most." And states
and school districts should be prepared, he added, to place students
with the least amount of access to learning resources during the
shift to online learning at the front of the line for "face-to-face
summer school or after-school programs, when they become available."
report, as well as interactive data tables and links to the survey
results, are openly available on
the Commission's website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.