Survey: L.A. Teachers Say Students Are Losing Focus Amid Distance Learning


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles Unified School District teachers overwhelmingly believe lower-than-ordinary student participation in distance learning is to blame for falling grades, according to results of a survey released this week.

The survey conducted by Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles, a teacher-led organization, and the USC Rossier School of Education found 94% of teachers surveyed said low student engagement has been a serious obstacle to effectively implementing distance learning this school year.

“My colleagues and I have done our best to serve our students during this pandemic, but our students are experiencing the largest disruption to education in generations,'' said Meghann Seril, a national board certified-third-grade teacher and member of Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles.

“Although we have continued to adjust and adapt to distance learning during the past 10 months, we still lack the resources and quality guidance to ensure our students, especially the most vulnerable, are not shortchanged of the education they deserve.''

“Voices from the (Virtual) Classroom: A Survey of Los Angeles Educators,'' was broadly representative of Los Angeles teachers from district, magnet, pilot and charter public schools, USC stated. It explored the issues affecting students and the profession as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect education.

“Los Angeles teachers are working incredibly hard amid terrible circumstances to provide the best quality education they can during the pandemic,'' said Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor at USC Rossier.

“This survey provides concrete evidence about what teachers need in the short- and long-term to reshape our educational systems to better serve all students.''

After nine months of distance learning, the survey found that teachers believe younger and more vulnerable populations have been most affected.

When asked how serious the barriers to successful learning are, 56% of respondents said that access to high-speed internet was a very serious issue. Teachers also said very serious issues include a lack of quiet learning space at home and lack of adult support at home.

The survey also found 35% of teachers said they'd been given adequate guidance for distance learning from superiors, and 23% reported all students have been in attendance.

“It is disturbing that our educators and students are still facing some of the same fundamental challenges they did in the spring ... and lack of useful guidance to teach in this new learning environment,'' said Patricia Burch, a professor at USC Rossier.

“This cuts across the typical lines of differences -- district versus charter, low-income versus high-income, race -- but it is clear from educator voices that our vulnerable students are being the most impacted and need additional resources, time and support now.''

According to USC, the main findings from the survey were:

-- Schools are not regularly meeting the needs of the most vulnerable student populations;

-- in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the related protests, a little more than one-third of teachers received guidance for their classrooms and only half of the teachers said they discussed race relations with colleagues and/or students;

-- with the increased demand on teachers' time during distance learning, teachers would like more time for all their responsibilities, especially supporting their students' social and emotional health and

professional development;

-- teachers were divided on how grading should be handled, with just over one-third supporting a traditional grading system during the pandemic;

-- about half of the teachers said they are stressed by the demands the pandemic is placing on them and their families;

-- three-quarters of teachers called a mask mandate “critical'' to the physical reopening of schools. Many teachers also expressed enthusiasm for additional health and safety measures, as well as flexibility to continue delivering instruction online depending on needs; and

-- should the pandemic cause budget cuts, teachers do not support layoffs determined solely by seniority and they want a funding formula that supports traditionally underserved populations.

The survey was written and administered by Gotham Research Group, an independent research firm. It was conducted online and by telephone from Nov. 5-Dec. 3, among a representative sample of 502 full-time LAUSD teachers, USC stated.

The full survey results can be found at e4e.org/news/survey-americas-educators/voices-virtual-classroom-los-angeles.

Photo: Getty Images


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