This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Susan Patrick, the President and CEO of Aurora Institute and co-founder of CompetencyWorks. Susan shares observations about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for American K-12 education, and the prospects for expanding digital learning. They discuss the overall quality of the remote and blended learning America’s K-12 school districts offered during the pandemic, and which states excelled. Susan shares thoughts on how digital models can help address pre-pandemic achievement gaps and learning loss due to COVID-19, especially among poor, minority, and rural students. They also review claims by skeptics of digital schooling about its efficacy for early childhood, urban, or special needs students, and best practices drawn from the pandemic for better serving these groups. Susan provides insights around digital schooling and some policy levers that national, state, and local leaders should explore to improve K-12 education.

Stories of the Week: In Michigan, families have filed suit against the state Department of Education and Ann Arbor Public Schools claiming they received inadequate special education services during the pandemic. New survey results from New America and Rutgers University find that, a year after pandemic-related school closures, 15 percent of lower-income students in a nationally representative sample still lack fast and reliable internet access at home.