Research press release


Nature Human Behaviour

Social science: US school closures disproportionately affect ethnic minorities and low-income households

米国の10万校以上の学校の実際の登校状況を追跡し、学校が休校されているかどうか、遠距離学習に行っているかどうかを推定するためのインタラクティブなデータベースがNature Human Behaviour に掲載される論文で示されている。得られた知見から、民族的・人種的マイノリティーの生徒の多い学校、あるいは低収入世帯の生徒の多い学校、そして試験の点数が平均以下の学校ほど、遠距離学習を行っている傾向が高いことが明らかとなった。


今回、Zachary ParolinとEmma Leeの研究チームは、匿名化された携帯電話データを用いて、2019年1月〜2020年12月の米国の幼稚園から12年生まで10万校以上の学校の実際の登校状況を追跡した「米国休校・遠距離学習データベース」(U.S. School Closure & Distance Learning Database)を開発した。そして著者たちは、得られたデータと学校レベルの指標を組み合わせることで、各校の生徒の構成を解析した。



An interactive database that tracks in-person visits to more than 100,000 schools in the United States to estimate whether a school is closed and engaged in distance learning is presented in Nature Human Behaviour. The findings show that schools with more students from ethnic or racial minorities or lower-income households, and schools with below-average test marks, were more likely to have been exposed to distance learning.

Although school closures are necessary to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, they have important consequences for children’s development, with previous research indicating that children are learning less through distance learning. However, little is known about the socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic characteristics of students exposed to distance learning.

Zachary Parolin and Emma Lee developed the U.S. School Closure & Distance Learning Database, which uses anonymized mobile phone data to track in-person visits to more than 100,000 US schools from kindergarten through grade 12 from January 2019 to December 2020. They then combined these data with school-level indicators to analyse the make-up of a school’s student body.

The authors found that from September to December 2020, closures were more common in schools with the following factors: lower third-grade math scores; a higher share of students from racial or ethnic minorities; and a higher share of students who had experienced homelessness, were eligible for free/reduced school lunches, or had limited English proficiency. When considering race and ethnicity, the authors found that in October 2020, 35% of white students were exposed to distance learning, compared to 52% of Black students, 60% of Hispanic students, and 65% of Asian students. The authors also found that schools recording the lowest third-grade math scores were around 15 percentage points more likely to be closed than schools with average test scores.

The authors suggest that school closures are likely to exacerbate existing inequalities within the US educational system. Their database is publically available and will be updated monthly, which could be of use to researchers examining the impact of school closures on education and socioeconomic outcomes.

The paper is available at the following link:

doi: 10.1038/s41562-021-01087-8

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