Jennifer Lewis, associate professor of Mathematics Education in the College of Education, quoted in Chalkbeat Detroit, "Tens of thousands of Michigan students are missing this fall. The state doesn’t have a plan to find them."

Chalkbeat Detroit, 12/11

Tens of thousands of Michigan students are missing this fall. The state doesn’t have a plan to find them.

By Koby Levin and Eleanore Catolico

Michigan does not have the ability to find thousands of students who are likely “not being educated” during the pandemic, much less a unified plan to do so. As COVID-19 deaths rise in Michigan and more schools move to online instruction, districts have shouldered the responsibility for finding missing students, making phone calls, and in some cases knocking on doors. But many of those students remain unaccounted for three months into the school year, and state leaders have done little more than encourage local superintendents to find them. Many students “are not attending online classes and they’re not attending in-person classes — they’re just kind of lost,” said Jennifer Lewis, an associate professor of math education at Wayne State University. That means students are missing out on concepts that they’ll need to understand next year’s work. Not to mention they’re missing out on the emotional and social support that they receive at school. Educators are concerned about the well-being — academic, emotional, and physical — of students who simply aren’t attending school. Reports of child abuse have declined sharply during the pandemic, in part because teachers are among the people most likely to notice the signs of abuse. Adding to the urgency of the situation, these students were already at greater risk of falling behind, she added. “The kids who will suffer the most will be the kids who were already suffering,” she said. “The achievement gaps will only grow. We’ve already struggled with, ‘How do we help kids catch up?’ Now it’s going to be a stronger concern.”

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