Illinois ranked among worst in nation for access to in-person learning

Illinois ranked among worst in nation for access to in-person learning

The unconventional learning formats caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are taking a toll on Illinois students. There is a solution.

Every state faced pandemic-related challenges, but Illinois ranked 42nd in the nation for access to full-time, in-person learning from September 2020 to April 2021, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

At the same time, academic performance suffered, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, which publishes annual assessment scores.

2021 saw 17% fewer students meeting English language arts standards, and an 18% drop in students meeting math standards for their grade since 2019. Testing showed only 28% of third graders meeting reading standards.

Harvard researchers published a new study highlighting the negative effects remote learning has on mental and behavior wellness in kids. Poor academic performance only heightens the stress students already face from learning outside classrooms.

Qualifying parents who feel trapped in the back-and-forth cycle from in-person to remote learning can receive a tax credit scholarship to pay for private school tuition. While the income limit was $78,600 for a family of four in 2021, the average recipient family income was half that. About 26,000 students were on the waitlist.

Expanding tax credit scholarships for students gives parents options for their children’s educations without worrying about the affordability of one school over another. A trio of bills in the Illinois General Assembly could achieve that, and let students from low-income homes experience learning environments that better fit their needs.

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