Children should not repeat a year at school due to coronavirus. There are much better options.


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Australian schools and teachers are preparing to change classes online – some independent schools already have this. Distance learning is likely to become the norm in the second semester and possibly longer.


Even if everything is done well, there may still be a loss in learning.

Strict research in the USA online charter schools show students learn less than similar peers in traditional schools face to face.

This makes sense because learning is a social activity. evidence shows positive effects stronger where technology is in addition to learning, and not a significant substitute – the situation we are facing now.

Our disadvantaged students will suffer the most. Children from poor households study worse on the Internet for a variety of reasons; they have less internet access, fewer technology devices, poorer home schooling and less help from parents when they get stuck.

Students who have learning difficulties are also at risk. Calling students to work out most of the curriculum online on their own can create additional stress, as they are required to regulate their own learning rate. Many struggle with this, especially students who are already behind,

To be clear, this is not an argument against online learning. Digital learning offers great potential for schools and students. Some online programsincluding digital games, modeling, and computer training show positive results when used to support learning.

But the success of online initiatives depends on preparation and good implementation. A quick response to a shift in online learning for large populations during a pandemic is unlikely to produce above average results.

So what does the government do after COVID-19, when school reopens to help students bounce back?

Catch-up programs

Many students are likely to be behind, and some will be very far behind. If schools are closed for the second semester and possibly the third semester, many students will have something to catch up to rise in 2021. For our teachers, a difficult and unprecedented situation.

Governments and schools have several options. The beginning of the struggle of students repeat year should not be one of them unless closing schools lasts much longer than expected. Evidence shows that repeating the year is one of the few educational activities that harms the student academically. Those who repeat the year may become unmotivated, have less self-esteem, skip school, and less likely to do homework.

The best option for teachers is to conduct intensive training for small groupsbefore or after a typical school day. These sessions can target the most unfavorable and student wrestling in groups of two to five students.

Evidence usually shows that the smaller the group for tuition, the greater the effect. Individual sessions in most cases, it has the greatest effect, but, given its higher cost, training in small groups could be used as a first step.

Another option is intensive academic programs conducted over several weeks. They may be similar to what Americans call the “summer school” programs, but with a greater academic focus and are aimed at students' struggles.

In Australia, they can be held one week before the opening of schools or for three or four days off. US data show that students attending summer school programs may two month additional progress in teaching compared to similar students who do not.

The impact of summer programs more when academically focused and intensively delivered with a small group training by experienced teachers.

Of course, teachers can also do more during regular one-to-one lessons at school to help children catch up, and current crises can create an additional focus on what teaching methods and programs Work BestBut given the likely size of the problem, additional catch-up measures will still be needed.

Costs will return to the economy

The costs of such catch-up programs are significant, but affordable. For example, we estimate that small group tuition for half of students across Australia will cost about $ 900 million. This is based on groups of three students receiving 30 minutes of study, five times a week, for two full semesters, at a price $ 460 per student,

Conducting a three-week intensive summer school for, say, 800,000 students from dysfunctional families across Australia would cost about $ 800 million, provided that $ 1000 per student based on US and UK experience.

These are not large amounts in the scheme of economic incentives and the costs of the rescue package for COVID-19. If new catch-up programs cost, say, from 2 to 4 billion dollars, then this is only 3-6% of the federal government. incentive measures announced to date.

And money for summer schools and small group tuition additional salaries for teachers, providing a financial incentive at a time when the economy really needs it.

No doubt schools and teachers will do their best to continue. student learning while schools are closed. And thanks to this process, we also learn a lot about how to conduct online training for large groups of the population, and we will improve along the way.

But, despite all efforts, we must prepare for loss of training and plan catch-up programs.


Schools go online, but not all children start the same way


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Children should not repeat a year at school due to coronavirus. There are much better options (2020, March 27)
restored March 27, 2020
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