Research shows changing schools can make or break a student, but the wave of post-COVID mobility may challenge the systems in ways we’ve never seen
The closing months of 2020 have brought little certainty to the question of when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. Through the beginning of a new school year, the drawn-out climax of a disputed election, and even the development of three separate vaccines, coronavirus infections and deaths have surged in a frightening second wave that has...
By Kevin Mahnken | December 28, 2020
16 charts that changed the way we looked at America’s schools in a year unlike any other
Never before has the American education system been put under a microscope — sometimes literally — the way it was in 2020. That’s because COVID-19 illustrated just how much about schools we take for granted. Education research examines all kinds of things that take place inside the walls of schools, from science lessons and gym...
By Kevin Mahnken | December 17, 2020
Using tutors to combat COVID learning loss: New research shows that even lightly trained volunteers drive academic gains
As students seek to cope with the threat of learning losses wreaked by COVID-19 and months-long school closures, some families have already hit upon a solution of sorts: hiring professional tutors. The idea — commonsensical for the well-off, but prohibitively expensive for most — has engendered a storm of controversy. If a small portion of...
By Kevin Mahnken | November 2, 2020
Survey: More than half of teachers felt less successful after COVID-19
New public opinion research indicates that COVID-19 and the hurried transition to remote learning presented teachers with an array of challenges that seriously damaged their sense of self-efficacy. The quality of school working conditions, including fair expectations and clear communication, was found to be critical in sustaining the educators’ perceptions of professional success. While over...
By Kevin Mahnken | October 28, 2020
Politics, not science, is driving school reopening decisions to a ‘really dangerous’ degree, research suggests
Over seven months after much of society shut down in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no uniform policy guiding school districts through the return of tens of millions of students to in-person education. In most jurisdictions, officials have spent the last few months balancing risks and responsibilities, resulting in millions of American students...
By Kevin Mahnken | October 22, 2020
An education system, divided: How internet inequity persisted through 4 presidents and left schools unprepared for the pandemic
As COVID-19 shut down its schools, Hamilton County, Tennessee, was ideally situated for the switch to virtual learning. At least in theory. Home to the regional tech hub of Chattanooga, Hamilton County has been celebrated for its pioneering, municipally owned fiber-optic network and the economic revival it has powered over the past decade. The area’s...
By Kevin Mahnken | September 15, 2020
‘Do you really want to spend the money on online Yale?’ For the Class of 2020, gap years beckon
In the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was looking pretty good to Lizbeth Luevano. Before the year even began, she had received early acceptance to Stanford — a dream for the 18-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants in California’s Coachella Valley. After striving to master English in her early years, Lizbeth had developed...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 25, 2020
The achievement gap has driven education reform for decades. Now some are calling it a racist idea
For decades, a coalition of educators, politicians and activists have fixed one goal above all others in their mission to promote equity in education: closing the racial achievement gap. Its very existence — the stubborn divergence in standardized test scores between white students and students of color — belies the progressive dream of a color-blind...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 21, 2020
Democratic school choice advocates struggle to be heard over the din of COVID, Trump & recession as virtual convention ushers in election’s final phase
Every four years, education reformers dare to dream that a presidential election will finally hinge on the issue of school choice. And each time, their hopes are crushed as wars, recessions, and scandals bump their top priority out of the spotlight. The unique conditions of the 2020 election, in which a deadly pandemic and a...
By Kevin Mahnken | August 19, 2020
New study does not find stark differences in how district, charter and private schools responded to COVID-19 crisis
The nation’s K-12 schools reacted to the disruption of COVID-19 in broadly similar ways regardless of whether they were district, charter or private, according to new research released Monday. In general, traditional public schools did not lag behind charters or private schools, except for a few days near the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis when...
By Kevin Mahnken | July 22, 2020