More Than a Million Students Disengaged From School at End of Academic Year, Analysis Suggests

Contributing Writer

An estimated 1.3 million students stopped engaging with their schools at the end of last academic year, according to an internal data analysis by a company that facilitates intensive digital communication between schools, students, and parents.

The company, Remind, says that the number of texts, emails, and in-app messages dropped by an average rate of 8 percent to 17 percent of active students across all 50 states.

Remind says it has about 30 million users, who include students, parents, and administrators, including 1 million users in Canada.

The company last week released estimates showing a precipitous drop in school-student communication at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, right after the coronavirus prompted schools to switch from in-person to remote classes. The company calculated individual data for all 50 states.

To gauge student engagement, Remind first counted all students who sent or responded to any message in April, then looked to see if the same students sent or responded to any message in May. The company’s analysis shows the number of students that it says stopped sending or responding to messages between those two months.

To be sure, Remind’s measures are only one measure of engagement, as it is possible that students or parents who stopped using the platform remained engaged in school through various other means.

Despite those limitations, Remind spokesperson Jamie Fox said the type of two-way communication that Remind provides is one of the most accurate and consistent metrics for student engagement, adding that when students send and respond to messages, they’re demonstrating that they’re reachable and responsive, or actively engaging with the school.

The San Francisco-based company derives data from its user base, but Remind Vice President of Marketing Kylee Hall said the usage data has a large enough sample size to be representative of engagement habits across the U.S.’s entire student populace.

A Conservative Number?

Remind’s methodology was to record students as users who had specifically selected themselves as a student user, Hall said. A portion of users don’t select whether they are a student, parent, teacher, or administrator, she said.

“Frankly, the number is likely higher than the 1.3 million [disengaged students], but we wanted to be as conservative and as clean as possible for the definition of what we are evaluating,” Hall said in an interview.

Remind’s state-by-state counts of students who disengaged at the end of last school year ranged from 300 in Vermont to 199,300 in Texas.

Remind competes with messaging platforms offered by companies like Blackboard and School Messenger, as well as behavioral-focused communications platforms like ClassDojo and Seesaw Learning. But compared with other platforms, general two-way communication is Remind’s “bread and butter,” Hall said.

Hall acknowledged that Remind has a self-interest in publishing these data.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t something that we wanted to point to Remind and say, ‘We are helping ed administrators identify this,’” she said.

Part of the reason Remind released the data is to enable school and district administrators to see when students might be starting to detach.

Remind has built a reporting function that will show school and district administrators weekly statistics capturing the degree of students’ engagement, providing school personnel with early signals that students may potentially need interventions or additional school outreach, Hall said.

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