Remote learning: What are the long-term effects of missing classroom time? Experts weigh in

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many students in the Chicago area have been doing full remote learning or at least partial remote learning since March 2020. What will be the long-term impact of missing so much time in a traditional classroom?

With doors shut yet another day for students, Chicago Public Schools officials insist they must open because kids are falling behind with remote learning. Is it a lost school year for so many students? Findings from a Rand Corporation survey of educators across America suggest it may be.

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"We have a lot of evidence students are not getting all the curriculum and instruction they would need during the normal year," said Julia Kaufman, Rand Corporation.

The research indicates some students are falling a couple grade levels behind in math and the learning gap in high-poverty minority areas has become even wider.

So, what kind of impact will the loss have a few years down the road?

"All of this suggests some long-term impact, but we can't really gauge it precisely at this point," Kaufman said.

While there may be long-term negative effects, some educators are more optimistic.

"I think kids are resilient," said Kathleen Sheridan, with UIC College of Education. "I think kids will catch up to whatever we want, we create those curriculums."

But, education experts say in order for high-risk students to catch up, it's going to take some extremely hard work from administrators, teachers and families.

"We are going to have to have a strategy that has to be clear and communicated with everybody on how we are going to help make sure kids are where we think they should be," said Timothy Dohrer, of Northwestern University's School of Education & Social Policy.

The Rand Corporation study is from data collected in October. For updated information, the research organization plans to follow up with schools across America in March, one year into the pandemic.
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