High school students who learned remotely during the pandemic had more problems than in-person

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    As the COVID-19 pandemic wages on and the academic repercussions are still being felt, high school students – in particular older students – had more social, emotional and academic problems than those who learned in school, a new study suggests.

    The research notes that the problems were universal, impacting students of all income levels, as well as race.

    On a 100-point scale, in-person students scored a 77.2 rating for social well-being, compared to 74.8 for those who learned remotely.

    Emotional and academic well-being scores saw similar discrepancies, with emotional levels for in-person students at 57.4, compared to 55.7 for remote and 78.4 for academic well-being and 77.3 for remote, respectively.

    ‘Notably, the thriving gap was larger among students in 10th through 12th grades than it was among ninth graders,’ said study co-author and Temple University professor Laurence Steinberg in a statement.

    High school students - in particular older students - had more social, emotional and academic problems than those who learned in school, a new study suggests

    High school students – in particular older students – had more social, emotional and academic problems than those who learned in school, a new study suggests

    On a 100-point scale, in-person students scored a 77.2 rating for social well-being, 57.4 for emotional well-being and 78.4 for academic well-being. Those who learned remotely had scores of 74.8, 55.7 and 77.3, respectively

    On a 100-point scale, in-person students scored a 77.2 rating for social well-being, 57.4 for emotional well-being and 78.4 for academic well-being. Those who learned remotely had scores of 74.8, 55.7 and 77.3, respectively

    According to UNICEF, 77 percent of countries around the world used some form of digital instruction for upper secondary education, which includes high school students. Lower levels, such as pre-primary education and primary education, saw 42 percent and 74 percent of digital instruction, respectively.

    According to UNICEF, 77 percent of countries around the world used some form of digital instruction for upper secondary education, which includes high school students

    According to UNICEF, 77 percent of countries around the world used some form of digital instruction for upper secondary education, which includes high school students

    ‘Many news stories have reported on individual stories of teenagers who have suffered from anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges during the pandemic,’ added the study’s lead author, University of Pennsylvania professor and Character Lab CEO and founder Angela Duckworth. 

    ‘This study gives some of the first empirical evidence of how learning remotely has affected adolescent well-being.’ 

    The results are the findings of a two-part survey that was conducted prior to COVID-19 emerging (February 2020) and its peak (October 2020), with some 6,500 students in Orange County Public Schools in Florida, considered ‘a large, diverse school district’ questioned.

    In an interview with The 74 Million, Duckworth said that COVID-19 distancing ‘seems to have a deleterious effect in every aspect of thriving, in every way we were measuring it.’ 

    After the second-part was conducted in October 2020, the families in the district were offered to keep remote learning for the 2020-21 school year or go back to in-person and two-thirds of students in the survey went remotely.

    The differences were not drastic, but large enough that it likely impacted millions of students across the country, Duckworth explained.

    ‘As policymakers gear up for national tutoring and remediation programs, which we agree are urgent priorities, we must recognize that our nation’s students are not just lagging as performers, they are suffering as people,’ Duckworth said in the statement. 

    ‘Meeting their intrinsic psychological needs – for social connection, for positive emotion, and authentic intellectual engagement – is a challenge that cannot wait.’    

    For social well-being, the survey included questions about fitting in at school, if there was an adult in the school that the students could turn to for advice or if there was an adult in the school who wanted the students to do their best.

    To measure emotional well-being, questions included how often the students felt happy, relaxed or sad, as well as the state of their lives overall.

    Questions that measured academic well-being included asking the students how interested they were in their classes, how important it was to do well and how confident they were they could succeed.

    The findings were published in the scientific journal Educational Researcher. 

    Although no firm data is available just yet, experts believe the ‘vast majority’ of high school students learned remotely during 2020. 

    High school students is a segment of the school-going population that policymakers have little information on, especially in light of the fact that many are now eligible to take the vaccines.

    However, they often move from one class to another, impacting social distancing and other safety measures put in place, according to US News.  

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are approximately 56.4 million students in elementary, middle and high schools across the US, with 4.1 million in the 9th grade and about 3.7 million who are expected to graduate high school or have done so already during the 2020-21 school year.

    Of those, 3.3 million went to public schools and about 400,000 went to private schools.   

    The findings coincide with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    According to the July 9 update from the CDC, students benefit from in-person learning and ‘safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.’ 

    Other takeaways from the update include promoting vaccination education, masks should be worn by those who are not fully vaccinated and a recommendation of at least three feet between students within classrooms.

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