7 shifts in students’ school experiences from fall to spring

Latinx, multiracial and Black students face more obstacles than do white or Asian students, survey finds
By: | February 17, 2021
Sixty-one percent of 85,000 students surveyed said they learned a lot every day this fall, an increase from from 39% who said the same in the spring.Sixty-one percent of 85,000 students surveyed said they learned a lot every day this fall, an increase from from 39% who said the same in the spring.

Students felt they learned more this fall, even with COVID’s disruptions, than they did in the immediate wake of the spring outbreak, a new survey has found.

Sixty-one percent of the 85,000 students surveyed said they learned a lot every day this fall, an increase from from 39% who said the same in the spring.

Though the fall numbers match pre-pandemic levels, experiences differ across student groups, according to YouthTruth’s “Students Weigh In: Learning & Well-Being During COVID-19” report.

Also, students and educators continue to grapple with the challenges of distance and online learning.


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While a large majority of online students said they could access school work, English-language learners and students in special education reported the positive experiences, the survey found.

Among all remote learners, 48% said they could take breaks when needed, 41% said their classes were interesting and only 35% reported that someone noticed if they weren’t paying attention.

The survey also found that:

  • Mental health: Feeling depressed, stressed or anxious poses the No. 1 obstacle to learning,
  • Uneven impacts:Latinx, multiracial and Black students face more obstacles than do white or Asian students.
  • Social connections: Students’ sense of belonging recovered in the fall, and they received increased academic support from their teachers.
  • Gender disparities: Males continue to rate their health and well-being more positively than do females and students who identify in another way.
  • Mental health: Students reported adults in school were less available to support mental and emotional health, but that schools offered more programs and services.
  • College aspirations: One in four high school seniors’ postsecondary plans have changed since the start of the pandemic.

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Students also reported several obstacles to virtual learning, including distractions at home, family responsibilities and concerns about their own health or the health of family members.

Still, teachers were more willing to provide students with additional help this fall than they were before COVID, the survey found.

When it comes to their sense of belonging, 49% of students said they felt they felt there were a part of their school community this fall, compared to 30% in the spring and 43% pre-COVID.

However, 43% of students surveyed in the spring said their teachers understood their lives outside of school. That number dropped to 30% this fall.