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Study: Connecticut public school high school students learning remotely are struggling

Early in this school year, when hearing from educators about the increased level of disengagement and course failure, RISE rose to the challenge.

NEW HAVEN, Conn — High school students in Connecticut learning remotely, during the pandemic, are struggling mightily, according to a report published by a New Haven-based non-profit.

The RISE Network, which is closely aligned with about a dozen Connecticut school districts, has just completed a study that focused on how students are doing in the classroom during the pandemic. Specifically, it compared outcomes of those who chose remote learning to students that take part in a hybrid model.

Early in this school year, when hearing from educators about the increased level of disengagement and course failure, RISE rose to the challenge.

The report found that students enrolled in remote learning were significantly less likely to be on track to move on to the next grade level when compared to students who opted for hybrid learning models.

"So, we want to find everything that we can to support them and make sure that they’re getting the engagement with school to be able to make up that ground," said Stephanie Fakharzadeh, Ph.D., Applied Research Strategist with The RISE Network.

The study recommends educators meet students and their families where they are. So, on Wednesdays, Middletown Public Schools grade 9 team hits the road.

And then they organize these porch visits to actually go out into the local communities, meet with the students and families, understand what the barriers are to connecting with school," said Emily Pallin, Executive Director with The RISE Network.

Another recommendation to educators: give students second chances and offer more support to see what sticks.

"At both of the high schools in Meriden they are now offering Saturday sessions where students that might need that one-on-one support or even remote students have chosen not to be a part of the in-person instruction might want to come on a Saturday," said Pallin. 

When fewer students will be at either Platt or Maloney High Schools, these remotely learners can work one on one with their teachers, set goals and get back on track.

The study found female students, students of color, and special education students were more likely to enroll in remote instruction.

"100% of the families, who chose remote learning, cited health and safety concerns," Pallin noted.

Rise analyzed enrollment and performance data for more than 12,000 students in grades nine through 12.