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Poll: Half Of Massachusetts Students Prefer In-Person Learning

A six-year-old gives the thumbs up to his teacher in his virtual classroom at the Roxbury YMCA in Boston on Sept. 21, 2020. (Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A six-year-old gives the thumbs up to his teacher in his virtual classroom at the Roxbury YMCA in Boston on Sept. 21, 2020. (Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

About half of Massachusetts high school students said they'd prefer to learn in-person full-time, according to a Gallup poll commissioned by the Barr Foundation.

The poll of 1,000 Massachusetts high school students and the accompanying report released Tuesday also showed that 34% of 14-18 year olds preferred a hybrid learning model while 16% said they liked remote learning best.

Among the students who said they preferred in-person learning, about two-thirds of kids said it was because they believed they learn more in person. The next most common reasons were seeing friends (26%) and that they could get special help at school that they could not get in a remote setting (21%).

The preferences for in-person learning experiences generally held up across demographics.

"When we compare only public school students or only private school students, household circumstances and other demographic factors, we still see this difference between the remote students and in person students," said Jonathan Rothwell, Gallup's principal economist who led the data analysis in the report. "That suggests the students themselves really do value the in-person learning experiences."

Lower-income students were more likely to be learning remotely full-time. About 57% of students from the state's lowest income households were learning remotely when the poll was administered in October and November of 2020. That's compared to about 37% of students from middle-income households and 31% from high-income households who were learning remotely full-time at that point.

Learning modalities also differed along racial lines. About 58% of Black students and 55% of Hispanic students reported learning remotely full-time in the fall compared to 31% of white students.

Pandemic-related school building closures have also resulted in a dip in student satisfaction. Just under 20% of students polled said they feel like they're learning a lot in school each day. Before the pandemic, that figure was at least ten percentage points higher. And the reasons behind that reported dip in satisfaction surprised poll analysts.

"I thought a big area of dissatisfaction with remote learning would be lack of friendships or feeling like you’re not included," said Rothwell. "Surprisingly theres no difference between remote and non-remote on that."

Feelings of stress and sadness among students also showed some interesting patterns when broken down by income level. While students from lower income households were more likely to report that they felt sad during the day (30%) than students from middle and higher income households (24% and 25%, respectively), more kids from high-income families reported feeling stressed (67%) than kids from middle (63%) and low-income (51%) households.

Related:

Carrie Jung Twitter Senior Reporter, Edify
Carrie is a senior education reporter with Edify.

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