Why Online Schooling Fails to Bridge the Learning Gap
While learning disparities were already spreading throughout the education system, now more than ever, students of color are at a disadvantage.
Sha Terrell, January 16, 2021
When students transitioned to remote learning in last year, I’m not sure many understood its toll on the education system. Unprepared, the schools in the US were ill-equipped to adapt to online learning. As a result, the achievement gap has only put more students of the Black and Hispanic communities at risk for dropping out. Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that black and Hispanic students’ dropout rates have decreased since 2017. Ideally, that would be an improvement, right? Sure. It’s a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done to make up for the disproportion.
Despite fewer students of color dropping out, the gap between them and White students remains higher — which is as follows: Hispanic students (8.2 percent), Black students (6.5 percent), and White students (4.3 percent). Reporter Katie Reilly of TIME has stated that students of color could fall behind as many as 12 months by the end of the upcoming academic year. By comparison, Black and Hispanic students are facing a more significant learning loss than White students. With the lack of live contact with teachers, subjects that were already troublesome (like English and math) have only become increasingly difficult. Let’s also not forget how the lack of educational support and opportunities directly impacts economic prospects of those who are underprivileged. By the way, when I say “impact,” I mean dissipate any chance to obtain and retain wealth that could create generational wealth — another disparity between races.
The racial wealth gap has persistently affected people of color, and this issue runs deeper than educational inequality. But I digress. More educational opportunities must be made available to close the learning gap. Looking at this problem through a full scope reveals contributors that are likely to cause students to fall behind are the lack of resources such as devices, internet connection, and engagement with their teachers. With recent spikes of COVID-19 cases growing throughout the country, that’s out of our control. Much of the damage has already been done. However, a more tangible solution is focusing on getting students who have behind up to speed with those who are on track – bridge the gap. Reports from the Mckinsey Global Institute (MSG) have recommended that initiatives to help the most vulnerable students should be established.
Such a mission includes providing targeted instruction to small groups of students and include one-on-one daily tutoring. The MSG suggests that this solid plan would cost roughly between $42 to $66 billion to support nearly half of the schoolchildren in the United States. Given how long it took government officials to pass the second round of stimulus relief to millions of struggling Americans, I wouldn’t hold my breath. So, parents, what can you do to help your students? Shower them with positive affirmations because children face more than just the loss of learning. Students worldwide are deeply affected by depression and anxiety, and both put a dampening on their eagerness to learn. Take the necessary measures to support their mental help (and yours) by exploring different ways to cope with stress and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting your children involved with opportunities will help with the advancement of their learning experience. Has your student been affected by the pandemic? There are several free online resources that have extended adequate tools and programs to help students. See the links below: