Most D96 parents, teachers pleased with remote learning

Biggest challenge for parents is finding time for own jobs

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

Parents in Riverside Elementary School District 96 seem mostly satisfied with remote learning, according to the results of a survey presented at last week's virtual meeting of the Board of Education. 

Just over 63 percent of parents surveyed in April said the workload for their children was just right, while 19.8 percent said that their children were not given enough work and 17.1 percent said that their children had too much work.

About 115 parents filled out the district survey, which was sent to families after the first three weeks of remote learning imposed by the state as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the survey, about 57 percent of District 96 students seem to be having real-time connections with their teachers via video conferencing no more than twice a week, with 18 percent of parents saying that their children are having interactions with teachers three or four times a week and 15.3 percent of parents saying those interactions were taking place five times a week. 

About 10 percent of parents said their children have had zero interactions with their teachers during the first three weeks of remote learning.

More than 80 percent of parents said that they found the real time connections between their children and their teachers to be valuable, with 41.4 percent strongly agreeing with that statement. 

Nine percent of parents said that they did not find the real time connections between their children and their teachers to be valuable.

Just over 85 percent of parents said that they found the real-time connections between their children and teachers to be manageable. But the biggest challenge for parents was finding the time to do their own jobs while supervising the school work of their children, especially younger ones.

"Balance was the most mentioned challenge," said District 96 Director of Teaching and Learning Angela Dolezal.

District 96 also surveyed teachers to see how remote learning was going, with 57 percent answering the questions. About 40 percent of teachers said they had real-time interactions with their entire class once or twice a week, while 7.5 percent said that they made those connections with their entire class three or four times a week. 

About 30 percent of teachers said they didn't meet with an entire class of students, but Dolezal pointed out that these were probably special education teachers and specialists who work with students individually or in small groups.

Going forward, the district will work on having special education teachers join in on video conferencing sessions that classroom room teachers have with their entire classes.

All teachers who responded to the survey said they found real-time interactions with their students to be valuable, with 58.5 percent of teachers strongly agreeing with that statement and 41.5 percent of teachers agreeing with it

Internet connectivity is not a problem for the overwhelming majority of District 96 students, with 94.2 percent of parents reporting that they have high-speed internet. The remainder said they relied on smartphone browsers or used mobile hotspots to connect to the internet.

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Arthur Perry from Brookfield  

Posted: May 21st, 2020 7:53 PM

In my child's experience with RBHS, I believe that D208 needs to do a lot more work to build a remote learning plan that works. Remote learning will never be as effective as in-person instruction and different students will have different results based on their learning preferences, access to technology, support at home and many other factors. One factor that to me seems relatively easy to control is technology. At RB, Skyward, Schoology, Google Classroom and many other tools are used by teachers in many different ways and are not integrated in any way. If my child can't navigate it, how can I as his parent? ?Although no one could have predicted the scope of this pandemic, school districts were supposed to have remote learning plans for snow days and other crisis situations. Lots of money has been invested in these instructional technology tools, like the platforms I mentioned and devices for students. We need to do much better with this, because there is a high probability that we will experience a disruption like this in the future.

Arthur Perry from Brookfield  

Posted: May 21st, 2020 7:53 PM

This article spurred a meaningful conversation with my son, an RBHS Senior who happens to be taking the AP Statistics exam tomorrow! The article, especially the headline is misleading. An easy fix would be to replace every occurrence of "Parent" and "Teacher" with "Survey Respondent". The only way the headline could be true is if the survey sample was representative of the total population of the D96 parents or teachers. But from what I know, it is not. 115 parents filled out the survey. According to the April Enrollment Report from this week's school board meeting, there were 1,732 students enrolled in D96. I don't know how many parents or families are represented by that, but clearly 115 parents represents probably about 10% at most. So even if a majority of parents responding to the survey are positive about remote learning, it does not represent the entire population. Also, since taking the time to respond to a survey essentially means the sample is self-selected, and these parents are likely more involved with the schools than the average parent, and would likely skew toward positivity to the schools. Regarding teachers, 57% responded, which is probably a more representative sample, but I would want to check the results to understand the outcome.

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