State sets up data system to track student participation during pandemic

Yehyun Kim ::

A classroom is being set up for the fall semester at Middletown High School.

Attending school has never been easy, but now, with students in class both in person and online because of the pandemic, the task is as delicate as it is essential for their education.

Particularly concerned with whether students will show up to virtual classrooms, the state’s Department of Education is developing ways to track student participation statewide – in all learning formats.

At a meeting of the State Board of Education on Wednesday, Ajit Gopalakrishnan, performance director of the education department, said that one of the ways officials plan to track attendance is to put in place mandatory weekly data collection from districts on the learning model they are currently using. – in person, hybrid or remotely. They are aware that the formats could change in the middle of the year depending on the impact of the pandemic on the neighborhoods.

Additionally, the state plans to track weekly whether students, especially those who are learning remotely, log into their classes. They also hope to get a feel for how students attend school, whether remotely or in person, by collecting attendance data monthly.

“We are convinced that with these tools we can actually get a better idea and regularly quote what is happening in our districts,” said Gopalakrishnan.

In August, the state sent a survey to districts asking them what their plans were for the new school year. Almost 57% of districts said they plan to start the year with or transition to in-person learning within four weeks; 41.2% said they wanted to start or eventually move to a hybrid model of in-person and distance learning; and a few districts said they would offer distance learning only for the foreseeable future.

But some districts have recently had to delay their start dates or revise their original plans due to staff or health issues. Danbury Public Schools, for example, have changed their plan to open due to a recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases in that region, while Hamden Public Schools have pushed back their start date due to ‘a lack of staff.

Officials said at Wednesday’s meeting that the state’s plan to systematically monitor what is happening in districts is aimed at detecting problems with participation and attendance at the start of the school year. When schools closed due to the pandemic last spring, a quarter of students either failed to show up or were scarcely present during distance education.

“For us it’s really important that we put systems in place to make sure we don’t have 2,000 children who go missing during the first two weeks of school,” Education Commissioner Miguel said. Cardona. “It will not happen.”

The state of Connecticut schools reopening plans as of August 11. Conditions have already forced several district plans to change.

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