ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New findings from the Legislative Finance Committee Evaluation Unit finds online learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic fell short and may set students back up to a year in academic learning. Some of the findings are in the LFC June 2020 newsletter. During a virtual meeting about the report on Wednesday, the presenter said the survey sited lack of internet access and parents working as some of the biggest obstacles to online learning for students.

“Since March, when all this started, we can anticipate that from now until November, kids will have lost a year’s worth of academic learning. And that’s scary! You know, we struggled anyway,” State Representative, Christine Trujillo, said.

According to Representative Trujillo, about 4,000 teachers and 73 districts, including Albuquerque Public Schools, participated in the survey. It found that schools couldn’t connect with about one in five students. It also found that of the students that were able to log on, only about 47% of them were actively engaged in the online class on a daily basis by the end of the school year.

With some form of distanced learning still on the table for next year, Representative Trujillo hopes better planning over summer can help improve online learning outcomes for next year. “There has to be more interaction with parents because parents didn’t even know how to do this stuff either. We all have to really stop and think about, and it has to be done quickly, what we can do to refine the process so that it is amenable and accessible to everyone,” she said.

The report urges the state to figure out a way to reopen schools in the fall to avoid having students fall even further behind. But, for State Representative Debra Sarinana, who represents many constituent families with the elderly raising children, it presents more concerns.

“If our kids go back, what could they bring home? Because, there’s a lot of grandparents in the families, and that’s a huge concern for them. That’s probably the most emails I get or calls I get during the week, is, what’s going to happen if they make us sick and we can’t take care of them,” she said.

Representative Sarinana, who is a math teacher, said she’s not overly surprised by the LFC Evaluation Unit’s findings, saying she experienced some of those challenges while teaching. She said she is planning all her classes virtually for the upcoming school year to be better prepared if schools have to close down again.

The report finds younger students are likely to experience even greater learning loss since levels like kindergarten, had online learning time-limited to 45 minutes. The report also attributes learning loss to the Public Education Department’s instruction that schools focus on reviewing material during distanced learning. Other states promoted teaching new material.

Read LFC Newsletter