Most students say they experienced very little meaningful online instruction.

Robin Lake:

Although the vast majority of students say they had access to some form of online education this fall, a nationally representative survey by the Center for Promise at America’s Promise Alliance showed that 78 percent of teens surveyed report spending between one and four hours on online learning during a typical day—far less time than a regular school day. Thirty-two percent of all students surveyed say they had two or less hours of online learning per day. Even taking into account that a typical school day includes time for socializing, transferring between classes, etc., this is a concerning loss of learning time. 

According to one national survey by Common Sense Media, nearly one in four teens say they’re connecting with their teachers less than once a week. Almost half (41 percent) haven’t attended an online or virtual class since in-person school was canceled. 

For most students, then, remote learning this fall was typically a solo endeavor: watching a teacher’s pre-recorded video, doing a project assigned by email, or even completing worksheets mailed home. Only a small number of students are regularly connecting online with teachers and classmates. Even then, students spent far less time than usual learning anything.