Virtual Disaster: Online School Leads to More Failures


With most schools around the country in either full or partial virtual learning due to the pandemic, we're learning more about the negative effects. Experts have previously warned about long-term issues with virtual learning, but there's new evidence of short-term issues as well. A study from Virginia's largest school system found the percentage of middle and high school students who have failed more than one class so far this school year nearly doubled during the first quarter of this school year, from 6% to 11%.

The effects are even more pronounced for younger students. Middle schoolers in the study had a 300% increase in "F" grades, compared to a 50% increase for high schoolers.

Jean Burk, education expert with College Prep Genius, is not surprised that online school is failing the students. "It's a completely one-dimensional system, where you're just hearing and seeing, but not able to move around and engage and be there in person," she tells KTRH. "A lot of kids aren't even wired for that."

Burk further believes online schooling is bad for both the students and the educators. "When (students) are just sitting there for several hours doing one thing, just staring at a screen with a teacher...you've lost these kids," she says. "Because you can't see what they're doing."

"It's also very easy for these kids to be distracted, playing on their computers or phones while the teacher is talking," she continues. "So it's a great way for cheating as well as lack of engagement."

Burk sees the solution as getting kids into one consistent mode of learning, either at school or at home. "I think it comes down to choosing between one of two bold steps," she says. "One, open schools fully, or two, just homeschool your kids totally...that way, there is complete accountability."


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