Too Many Schools Leave Learning to Chance During the Pandemic

June 2020


This brief summarizes our findings from a review of COVID-19 response plans of 477 school districts across the country.

Key findings include:

  • 1 in 3 school districts have been communicating an expectation that teachers will provide instruction while schools remain closed.
  • Urban and suburban districts have been significantly more likely than rural and small-town districts to communicate an expectation that teachers will provide instruction.
  • The most affluent districts were more than twice as likely as the districts with the highest concentrations of low-income students to require at least some teachers to provide live, real-time instruction. They were also significantly more likely to formally track student attendance and engagement during remote learning.

Some districts have made extraordinary efforts to overcome the digital divide and deliver instruction despite the unprecedented disruptions created by this pandemic. But these results send a clear signal that most students, especially those in rural and small districts, will be far behind where they should be next year. School systems and educators must prepare now to limit learning losses and address individual student needs. 

The brief is also available to read on the Lens.