Idled High School Students Aren’t Getting Much Homework Yet, Survey Finds

By Debra Viadero — March 24, 2020 3 min read
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More than half of students may not be getting tangible homework assignments while their schools are closed during the coronavirus crisis, a new nationwide survey of parents suggests.

Conducted among 320 parents of high school students, the first-glimpse survey by Kaplan Test Prep found that when asked about the roadmap and tools schools were using to keep the education process going outside of the classroom, only 43 percent of parents said that their children were receiving homework assignments.

The majority of parents said their schools were providing other alternatives such as virtual learning environments and access to online learning materials, and 15 percent of parents said that their schools weren’t requiring any work to be done at all while they were closed.

“As this crisis plays out, it’s going to be a fluid situation.” said Dennis Yim, Kaplan’s director of academics. The survey was conducted from March 19 to 20, just as some school closures were getting underway.

According to Yim, many schools are still developing the most effective ways to continue the learning process for students in real-time. While some schools might be providing tangible assignments for students to work on and others are offering more technological options, all approaches that are most likely going to continue to be updated as the pandemic continues.

Additionally, the survey found that if their children’s schools were to switch to online virtual learning for the rest of the year, 69 percent of parents believe their children would still have the necessary skills to succeed.

“Given that a large percentage of schools haven’t offered those assignments, but parents are still optimistic, lends to the idea that everyone is working together on this,” Yim said.

While the range of support and resources varied significantly across schools, most parents said they were pleased with how their children’s schools have handled coronavirus challenges and are adjusting to alternative methods of education and communication.

Seventy-seven percent of participants said that their high schools were doing a good job of communicating with them amidst all the pandemic uncertainty. Sixty-seven percent said that their high schools were adequately providing the support necessary for their children to continue learning from home.

“It’s important that schools remain in close contact,” Yim said. “As the weeks go by, it seems most likely that we’re going to see more guidance from schools about how students can keep up with their studies.”

Alongside the positive outlook on how their children’s schools are currently operating, many parents appear to still be hopeful that schools will reopen soon.

A combined 83 percent of parents said that they believe schools will reopen either before or at the start of the regularly scheduled 2020-2021 school year, including 30 percent who believe they’ll reopen before the end of the current school year, and 20 percent who predict a summer re-opening.

This level of optimism may seem surprising given the current state of schools. As of March 22, about 54.5 million students across 46 states have been affected by school closures and federal health officials were predicting the crisis would last months more.

According to Yim, it’s critical to speak with parents to hear their perspectives and understand what their needs are at a time like this. Yim added that such conversations are important to provide some solidarity.

“Every parent is going through some troubling times at the moment.” Yim said

However, it seems the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has yet to fully discourage most parents’ from being hopeful for the future of their children’s education.

“I think everyone is working towards the same goals here... there’s an opportunity to really take advantage of this time and to communicate how to take that advantage.” Yim said.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.