Roughly a third of big city school districts in the US are keeping virtual programs created during the COVID-19 pandemic in place this school year, according to new research released Monday.

Another third of large districts are ditching remote learning altogether, researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a non-profit research center at Arizona State University. 

“Students in remote learning suffered more academic consequences than students in person. That said, there were also students in remote learning who flourished,” said Bree Dusseault, whose new review was first published by the non-profit news site The 74 Million.

“It may not be a universal solution for all students — but enough districts saw promise for certain cohorts of students,” Dusseault told The Post.

The remainder of the nation’s 100 largest districts — which make up 20% of all public school students — will continue offering remote learning options that pre-dated the virus.

The data suggests that though big city school districts are more likely to offer a remote alternative than not, most have scrapped the COVID-era distance options that were cobbled together, then rejigged, multiple times during the pandemic.

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Students in remote learning suffered more academic consequences than students in person says a review by Bree Dusseault, w.
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“We hoped that we would see districts taking advantage of this very difficult moment to pilot practice that upended historically inequitable systems. There was a window of opportunity for districts to try to do something differently,” said Dusseault.

“But it was really, really hard for districts — especially these large and urban districts — to radically reimagine what learning could look like during the pandemic. Districts tended to be on their back foot. They were reacting,” she added.

Dusseault and co-researcher Cara Pangelinan speculated some districts may be ending their programs because they were of lesser quality than in-person classes, or because interest among families waned in later stages of the pandemic.

As for the districts keeping the option, fewer of their students will be eligible to enroll in the online programs. This fall, 46% of large districts offered all of their students a remote option, compared to 56% last year.

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Another third of the nation’s 100 largest districts will continue offering remote learning options.
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Some school districts this go-around are “being careful about how broad an option it is,” Dusseault explained. Detroit Public Schools, for example, is not accepting students who were chronically absent or failing classes to its remote schools.

Other districts are zeroing in on older students, who may have taken jobs during the pandemic and are at risk of dropping out of school without flexible school schedules, Dusseault said.

In New York City, the Department of Education is rolling out two virtual learning programs for high schoolers, dubbed “A School Without Walls.” City officials aim to turn them into full-blown remote schools that can grant diplomas by 2023, pending state approval.

“It is up to us as educators to meet students where they are with opportunities that empower them in their learning,” said Schools Chancellor David Banks at the time.



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