When COVID-19 began to spread widely in early 2020, schools around the United States closed their buildings and served students remotely for the remainder of school year (SY) 2019–2020. Most school districts in metro Atlanta began SY 2020–2021 with fully-remote instruction but started to offer parents a choice of in-person instruction for their child at various points later in the year. Previous research from the Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education (MAPLE) documented the impacts on students through the middle of SY 2020–21, and the latest update evaluates student trajectories through the end of SY 2021–22. Additionally, a 2021 MAPLE report provided evidence on variation in student engagement in remote instruction and achievement gains during the fall 2020 semester in one metro-Atlanta district, but there is still relatively little known about why some students fared better than others during remote instruction.
The appendix to the initial COVID-19 student achievement growth report found that female students in metro-Atlanta school districts fared better academically than male students during the pandemic. While the authors documented the differences in achievement growth for male and female students, there has been no work thus far to understand the causal mechanisms. Researchers Tim Sass and Sungmee Kim are focusing on gender-based differences in the impact of remote learning associated with differences in student self-control and exposure to disruptive peers. Identifying the mechanisms driving gender differences in pandemic-era achievement growth could have important policy implications for how best to support students in areas such as class size, learning mode assignment, and discipline.
- Did pandemic-era remote learning dampen any negative effects of having disruptive classmates?
- To what extent did success in remote learning vary with student self-control?
- How much of observed gender differences in student outcomes during remote learning can be explained by differences in self-control and exposure to disruptive peers?