FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2020
Washington, DC — Today, Business Forward Foundation issued a report on tackling remote learning challenges that have arisen during COVID-19. “The Homework Gap” examines the various obstacles different groups of students have faced as a result of unequal access to essential technology and resources.
“America’s K-12 schools performed poorly before COVID-19. The pandemic just made it worse,” said Jim Doyle, president of Business Forward Foundation.
The issue brief suggests that closing the homework gap is a matter of tackling contributing gaps simultaneously. “To continue their education in a distance learning environment, every student needs access to a laptop, broadband, digital literacy, parental assistance, a school offering online curriculum, and teachers who know how to use it,” said Doyle.
Not only will today’s investments make education more accessible during COVID-19, but it could also provide homework support for low-income students in future years — and that could improve school attendance, achievement, and college opportunity. “Long term, these investments could generate significant returns on investment, improving our workforce and growing our economy,” said Doyle.
1. America’s K-12 schools performed poorly before COVID-19. The pandemic just made it worse.
2. To learn from home, a student needs a laptop, broadband, digital literacy, parental assistance, a school offering online curriculum, and teachers who know how to use it.
3. This past semester only about one in three students met all of these requirements: 44 million of America’s 56 million K-12 students were unable to learn online, in real-time, and be graded and tracked by their teachers. Educators call this the “homework gap,” but “gap” doesn’t capture the scale of the problem.
4. Preliminary estimates suggest students will return in fall 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading and 50% of the learning gains in math relative to a typical school year. And most teachers will have no way of knowing what lessons each of their students actually learned.
5. To close the homework gap, we must address each of its underlying “gaps” simultaneously: affordable laptops and broadband, curriculum designed for distance learning (and the future of work), and digital training for students, parents, and teachers.
6. It’s a massive undertaking that will require significant investment and coordination, but the tools we build and deliver in response to COVID-19 could level the playing field for students from low-income families, improve our workforce, and grow our economy.
ABOUT BUSINESS FORWARD FOUNDATION
The Business Forward Foundation is an independent research and education organization that takes a business-minded look at policy issues affecting America’s economic competitiveness. Our work combines insights and advice from business leaders across the country with rigorous policy analysis. Through white papers, issue briefs, conference calls, and other events, we educate policy makers and the public about climate change, immigration reform, infrastructure investment, the future of work, and other critical issues.