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Student experiences during COVID-19: What have we learned?

If you’re a regular reader of our blogs (we trust that you are!), you might remember two from the past few months in which we discussed parent and staff experiences during COVID-19 and distance learning. In all honesty, we didn’t know what we’d find when we compared “COVID era” data to that from a couple of years ago. Interestingly, the data in both cases showed slight improvements in many areas and not too much backtracking.

Parent recap: Parents’ overall satisfaction with their child’s school has actually improved ever so slightly. They rated communication as one of the most improved areas and generally believe their school is run effectively and is headed in the right direction. Parents did, however, rate academic rigor lower than in previous years.

Staff recap: Staff members also shed a positive light on their experiences during COVID-19, reporting that they are more up-to-date with technology and have more trust in the consistency of their department leadership. Additionally, and contrary to many of those "clickbait" headlines out there, staff members responded that they have generally been able to meet their students' social/emotional needs. This is really great news and something we'll keep an eye on.

So, you must be dying to know how the student data stacked up! Well, the data isn’t quite as rosy as the parent and staff comparisons, but it’s certainly far from “panic mode.”

While there may not be much in terms of significant improvements, students did report that they are respected and treated fairly at school and when rules are broken. They also shared that teachers at all levels (elementary, middle, and high school) are slightly more likely to provide extra help when needed.

Now to the bad news. The data showed that high school students and their families continue to talk about college but not nearly as much as they did in the past couple of years. This is where we see the most negative comparison. Because of COVID-19, many high school students have not been able to visit colleges. Due to similar circumstances at their school, they have also been less involved in clubs, sports, or activities that interest them.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t feel ready for college or a career. They rated things like “I feel well prepared for college and/or life after high school” and “I believe what I am learning in school is preparing me for next year” slightly higher than in previous years.

Overall, the differences in "COVID-19 era" student data to that from a couple of years ago are slight. Besides the inability to visit colleges and participate in school-sponsored activities, there isn't much to write home about.

The best news is that most students are back in the classroom, and almost half of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated. (By the way, if you’re in Wisconsin and wondering where to get a COVID-19 vaccine, check out this resource from the Department of Health Services.)

More than a year into the pandemic, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. The 2021-2022 school year is looking more and more normal by the day. (I hope I didn’t jinx anything by saying that!)


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Chelsea Davis, Data Analyst.


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