1. There were trends based on student demographic characteristics in how students experienced learning and well-being during school closures in spring 2020.
Students who felt more personally affected by COVID-19 had less positive experiences across most themes and questions. The same is true of 11th graders, while 5th and 6th graders reported more positive experiences. Asian students also tended to report more positive experiences across most themes.
2. Regarding the logistics of virtual learning, the majority of students were able to navigate mechanics such as accessing and turning in their schoolwork (87 and 79 percent, respectively).
However, students from low-income families, special education students, and students who are learning English (ELL) had less positive experiences accessing, completing, and turning in schoolwork. All students rated their school’s clarity about grading less positively than other dimensions of school logistics, with only 62 percent rating favorably overall.
3. When it comes to what students are learning, half said their teachers give them assignments that really help them learn and only 39 percent said they learn a lot almost every day.
There are clear divides in the experiences of “A” students versus “D” students, with students who typically get lower grades rating their learning experience significantly less positively than those who typically get higher grades.
4. In terms of student engagement, half of students said they are able to focus on their learning, and only 41 percent said they are able to motivate themselves to do schoolwork.
Asian students rated their ability to focus more positively than did other students, while Latinx students rated less positively. There were differences in students’ motivation across different grade levels, with 5th and 6th graders feeling more positively about their ability to motivate themselves to do schoolwork, and 10th, 11th, and 12th graders feeling less motivated.
5. In reflecting on relationships, four in ten students (43 percent) said many or all of their teachers make an effort to understand what their lives are like outside of school, and six in ten students (61 percent) said many or all of their teachers are available to give extra help if they need it.
On average, students reported that this is slightly better than usual. And just over half of students (54 percent) said there is an adult from school they can talk to when they’re feeling upset, stressed, or having problems.
6. Students’ sense of belonging has suffered. Only one in three students said they really feel like part of their school community (30 percent) and feel connected to school (31 percent).
On average students reported that this is worse than usual.
7. One in five high school seniors said their postsecondary plans have changed since their school buildings have been closed.
Students reported a range of postsecondary plans, from attending a 2-year or 4-year college, working full time, and joining the military – and 16 percent said they aren’t sure what they’ll do after high school.
8. Seventy percent of students reported obstacles to their virtual learning. Of those students, 64 percent reported facing distractions at home and 50 percent reported feeling depressed, stressed or anxious.
A higher proportion of female students and students who identify in another way experienced feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious as an obstacle to at-home learning as compared to male students. On average, Black and Latinx students faced a greater number of obstacles than did White and Asian students.
9. In sharing feedback about their health and well-being, students most appreciated spending time on things they like to do (57 percent said they are able to do so more now than usual). However, the ability to connect with friends received the lowest average rating of all items in the survey (with only 22 percent of students rating favorably).
Male students tended to rate their health and well-being more positively than did female students and students who identify in another way – males rated significantly more favorably in terms of spending time on things they like to do, getting enough physical activity, and connecting with friends.
Note: To download the survey instrument, navigate to the Appendix Survey Questions section.