Most students in Colorado’s two largest school districts are participating in remote learning, according to data from the districts. But statewide, it’s harder to tell how many Colorado children are learning from home while school buildings are closed due to the coronavirus.
That’s because districts are taking different approaches to tracking student attendance. The state isn’t requiring districts to collect the data, and not all of them are. That doesn’t necessarily mean attendance is low; teachers are still checking in on their students, and some are going to great lengths to reach those who aren’t participating.
But the lack of data means it’s difficult to get a comprehensive look at who’s learning and who’s not. And the reasons that students might not be showing up to class — lack of internet access or the need to work — raise concerns that the students who faced the steepest challenges before the pandemic will be the most behind whenever school returns to regular session.
Even the attendance data that is available contains a lot of gaps.
Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest district, is attempting to track the daily attendance of its approximately 92,000 students. But it hasn’t been easy. The district started remote learning on April 7 but doesn’t have reliable attendance data from the first two weeks.
Last week, 82% of students were engaged in remote learning, a district spokesperson said. By way of comparison, that’s 8.6 percentage points lower than the same time period last year, when schools were in session as normal.
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Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit chalkbeat.org/co.
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