Returning to In-Person Instruction

Department of Ed to Survey on Status of School Reopenings

The U.S. Department of Education will be running a survey to understand the status of in-person learning at the nation's schools. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will oversee the project, dubbed the "NAEP 2021 School Survey." Currently, the agency noted, there isn't enough data to understand the status of school re-opening or how students are learning. The survey is intended to fill that gap.

The announcement came on the heels of President Biden's Jan. 21 Executive Order to ensure "the collection of data necessary to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including data on the status of in-person learning."

Data collection will be handled by IES' National Center for Education Statistics and will include questions about:

  • Whether schools are open with full-time, in-person instruction, open with online and in-person instruction or fully remote;

  • Enrollment by instructional mode and attendance rates by race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, English learner status, and disability status;

  • Frequency of in-person learning for students;

  • The average number of hours of synchronous instruction for students in remote instruction mode; and

  • Student groups prioritized by schools for in-person instruction by selected school characteristics.

Analysis will examine findings based on student demographics, including race, ethnicity, disability, English-language-learner status and free or reduced lunch status or other indicators of family income.

"President Biden is committed to the safe reopening of schools and to addressing the educational disparities and inequities that the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated," said Ian Rosenblum, acting assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, in a statement. "To do that, we need more information about how students are learning during this pandemic--and we simply don't have it right now. The administration, educators, parents and education leaders need meaningful data in order to achieve these critical goals, and this survey will give them that."

"It's critically important to get a sense of how students are learning," added James Lynn Woodworth, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. "NCES will use this data to both provide the most accurate immediate view about school operating statuses and to better interpret the impact of current school operations on the results of the NAEP assessments scheduled to be conducted in 2022."

The survey will collect data from about 3,500 schools that enroll fourth-graders and an equal number of schools that enroll eighth-graders. Those are the same grades that participate in NAEP testing, otherwise known as the Nation's Report Card. And, in fact, the same online data collection systems and infrastructure used for NAEP will also be used for this project.

The surveying will take place monthly, starting this month, and continue through June 2021. Findings will be reported.

Additional information is openly available on the NAEP website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.