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Remote Schooling

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Penna Dexternever miss viewpoints

Millions of America’s students may have fallen behind during months of remote schooling. But parents have learned a lot. Some have discovered the benefits of homeschooling. Others found out how hard it can be and are jubilant when their schools reopen.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the findings of a non-profit organization called Northwest Evaluation Association. NWEA looked at online test results for 4.4 million public-school children in 3rd through 8th grades and found that students did nearly as well in reading this fall as they did last fall. But in math, students’ progress was slower. Another group, Renaissance Learning, Inc. found that students “started school this fall significantly behind expectations in math and modestly behind in some grades in reading.”

A California education blogger, Joanne Jacobs, wasn’t surprised by these results. Students may be reading at home, she writes, but “Kids pretty much learn math at school or don’t learn it.” Math skills build upon each other. So a lesson missed or not mastered last spring makes it harder for students to advance.

It’s no wonder New York City parents pushed back hard when their schools closed a couple of weeks ago and sent students back home for remote learning. Their pressure overcame the powerful teachers’ union and resulted in schools reopening this week for a large share of elementary school students.

Teachers’ unions often decry the learning gap between students living in more and less prosperous neighborhoods. Remote learning has exacerbated that gap.

Children with behavioral, emotional, and physical challenges have missed out on services they normally get through school. Some are falling behind, while parents have been on their own to seek out services such as speech therapy.

There’s no substitute for in-person learning. But this period of remote learning has taught some parents they no longer trust the public schools to provide their children with a good education.

This pandemic presents the perfect opportunity to get serious about school choice.penna's vp small

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