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NEA study shows student trends during the pandemic

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BOISE (Idaho Ed News) – Students want to return to the classroom, but a majority report doing “OK” during the pandemic.

These are just a couple of results shown in a survey completed by the National Education Association that was released on Tuesday. Titled “Student Voices in the Time of COVID,” the survey was completed by 1,328 students between the ages of 13 and 18 (including both middle school and high school students).

The NEA survey reports that 56% of students say they are doing OK in dealing with the pandemic, with 28% report they are “doing well” and 16% say they are struggling.

Students also report a drop in academic success since the pandemic began early in the year. A majority of students (58%) said they were doing well before the pandemic, a number that has since dropped to 32%. Currently, 48% of students claim they are “doing OK” academically while 20% claim they are struggling (up from 6% pre-pandemic).

According to the survey, the academic decline for students doesn’t show much difference between students who are taking classes in-person and students who are online, adding that students who are in hybrid models are showing the least success. But the NEA said the biggest factors are the age of the student and their parents’ education levels.

The students’ class-type preference varies widely depending on their school situation. For students who are currently fully in-person, 56% prefer to be fully in-person. For students in hybrid models of education, 42% say they prefer in-person, while 38% say they like the hybrid model. Among students who are taking classes online, 48% said they prefer online education.

Idaho students are attending school in a wide range of educational models, a map of how schools are teaching students can be found HERE.

Another point from the survey was that students are struggling with attention and staying motivated without more direct interaction with their teachers.

“I feel like a Zoom Zombie,” said one student in a focus group.

As far as racial discrepancy, the survey said a lot of numbers were consistent among different groups. But economic stress was higher for Black students with 44% reporting losing household income (the overall number was 39%) and 37% of Black students reporting at least one adult in their household losing a job (27% overall).

In its conclusion, the NEA said there is a temptation to call this current group of students a “lost generation,” but adds that students are resilient and have adapted well to the current reality. “This generation will likely surprise people in the end.”

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