by James A. Bacon
Virginia’s 133 school districts are conducting what amounts to an unprecedented experiment on the efficacy of online learning in K-12 education.
Spooked by COVID-19, local school boards are stampeding toward the emergency exits — hundreds of schools will close this fall, and tens of thousands of Virginia school kids will be educated at home. Here are some headlines compiled by today’s VA News:
Petersburg schools going virtual for start of upcoming year.
Fredericksburg schools will be 100 percent virtual when classes start Aug. 17.
Virginia Beach should start school year online-only, superintendent says.
Peninsula educators’ groups are united: they want school to start virtually.
York County Schools Superintendent recommends remote learning for at least first nine weeks.
Under latest proposal, Danville Public Schools would start with nine weeks of virtual learning.
Henry County Public Schools will reopen with all virtual classes.
The close-the-schools sentiment is not universal. Other articles report contentious public sessions in Albemarle County and Waynesboro, while Accomack and Northumberland Counties are offering in-person and distance-learning options. The discussion in Roanoke and Lynchburg appears to be focusing on how the return to school can be conducted safely.
This will make for a fascinating sociological experiment.
Assuming the COVID-19 epidemic subsides by next spring, there is a good chance that schools will re-institute the Standards of Learning exams. It will be most interesting to compare the academic achievement of students in districts that required in-person attendance, those that required online learning, and those that implemented hybrid policies.
Prediction No. 1: Overall, academic achievement will decline in school districts that shift to online learning. However, the impact will not be even. Declines in pass rates will be most pronounced for economically disadvantaged and minority students.
Prediction No. 2: Some families will try it and like it. Most likely, these will be families that (a) have access to broadband, and (b) have parents at home who can enforce children’s discipline. A significant percentage of these parents will decide they like online learning so much that they’ll switch their kids to home schooling.There are currently no comments highlighted.