To help safely reopen the nation’s schools and promote educational equity, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education has announced an effort to gather vital data on the impact of COVID-19 on students and the status of in-person learning. 

Currently, there is not enough data to understand the status of school reopening and how students are learning nationwide. This project, known as the “NAEP 2021 School Survey,” will collect data from nationally and state-representative samples. 

The study will rely on the existing online data collection systems and infrastructure used for the “Nation’s Report Card,” also known as NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress). No further details about the data collection were made available in a Feb. 5 press release from the federal education department about the initiative. 

The announcement follows President Joe Biden’s Jan. 21 Executive Order  to ensure “the collection of data necessary to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including data on the status of in-person learning.  These data shall be disaggregated by student demographics, including race, ethnicity, disability, English-language-learner status, and free or reduced lunch status or other appropriate indicators of family income.” 

IES’s National Center for Education Statistics will oversee the survey collection, which is designed to collect vital data with the least possible burden on schools. Data gathered in the survey will include: 

  • The share of the nation’s schools that are open with full-time in-person instruction, open with online and in-person instruction, or fully remote. 
  • Enrollment by instructional mode by race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, English learner status, and disability status. 
  • Attendance rates by instructional mode by race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, English learner status, disability status, and housing status. 
  • Frequency of in-person learning for students. 
  • Average number of hours of synchronous instruction for students in remote instruction mode.  
  • Student groups prioritized by schools for in-person instruction by selected school characteristics.  

The survey will collect data from approximately 3,500 schools that enroll fourth-graders and an equal number of schools that enroll eighth-graders. The public will have access to the data about school reopenings for in-person instruction and how students are learning. Results will be collected monthly beginning this month and running through June, and key findings will be reported, the federal Education Department said in a Feb. 5 press release.