Shakopee Public Schools administered widespread surveys to teachers and parents March 27 in order to gauge how well distance learning went after the first week. Distance learning took effect March 18 after an executive order from Gov. Tim Walz to stop the spread of COVID-19. Schools will remain closed the rest of the academic year.

The administration in Shakopee also kept track of the first and second weeks of distance learning's login statistics, which included data on students’ race and ethnicity.

According to those surveys and statistics, here’s how distance learning is going in Shakopee:

Majority of students have logged on

There are 8,105 students enrolled in the district and about 98% of them have logged on to the online learning systems, Canvas and SeeSaw, which are used by teachers to deliver materials to students, take quizzes, participate in discussion boards, and collect digital work from students, according to the district website. Assistant Superintendent Dave Orlowsky said the district measured “logging on” as accessing the system.

Distance learning: by ethnicity

The overwhelming majority of students logged onto distance learning during the first two weeks of remote school. When broken down by ethnicity, special education students and English Learner students, there is a slight disproportion in the percentage of students who logged on. The percentage of American Indian, Hispanic, special education and/or English learner students who did not log into the system compared to the overall percentage of Shakopee students who did not log into the system is slightly disproportionate, but overall, the school board was pleased with the first two weeks’ results.

Of all students, 116 did not log into Canvas or SeeSaw during the first week of distance learning, accounting for 1% of the district's students, and 127 did not log on during their second week of distance learning, or about 2% of students.

Shakopee Superintendent Mike Redmond said in April the school district’s goal is to create as much normalcy as possible for students, families and teachers during this time, and part of that normalcy means giving all students access to technology.

For those who are having technology issues, there is a full-time help desk available at Pearson Elementary, 917 Dakota St., and the school district office, 1200 Shakopee Town Square. Redmond said families can call ahead of time with their problem, or show up, to get problem-solving help.

Ethnicity breakdowns

Hispanic students disproportionately represented the percentage of students who did not log onto distance learning for the first two weeks.

No logins, week one

Ethnicity/Learning group No logins Percentage of total no-logins Percentage of district's population
American Indian 6 5% 1%
Asian 12 10% 11%
Black 19 16% 11%
Hispanic 36 31% 15%
Two or more races 9 8% 7%
White 34 29% 56%
English Learners 29 25% 13%
Special Education 31 27% 16%

No logins, week two

Ethnicity/Learning Group No logins Percentage of total no-logins Percentage of district population
American Indian 5 4% 1%
Asian 12 9% 11%
Black 24 19% 11%
Hispanic 37 29% 15%
Two or more races 7 6% 7%
White 42 33% 56%
English Learners 23 18% 13%
Special Education 31 24% 16%

Hispanic students account for 15% of the district’s student body, but 31% and 29% of the students who did not log into distance learning for the first and second weeks, respectively, were Hispanic.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with not having the resources,” Orlowsky said of the possible reason for this disproportion. “We do have teams at each of our schools that are aggressively pursuing each one of our students.”

White students, who account for 56% of the district’s students, accounted for 29% and 33% of the absent students, respectively, for the first two weeks of distance learning.

For students who also need to overcome language barriers, Redmond said the district works with a team of cultural liaisons who help English Learner families translate work and help the teachers and counselors communicate with the students.

“They have reinvented how they provide services,” Redmond said.

Most parents satisfied 

Parents' perception of distance learning

The majority of parents were either satisfied with distance learning after the first week, or thought it was a little too much or too little work. The dissatisfied responses were split between “not nearly enough” work and “way too much.”

Orlowsky said well over 1,000 comments were written after parents took surveys to give feedback on distance learning thus far. About 90% of Shakopee parents who participated said they think the amount of time their child is spending on school is about right, while the rest of the parents were evenly distributed between “way too much time” and “not enough.”

Teachers say 'could be better'

Of the 136 teacher respondents, 61% said distance learning “could be better." 

Thirty-four percent of the teacher respondents said they like distance learning, and the rest were evenly distributed between “really struggling” and “this is great.”

Teachers and distance learning

After the first week of distance learning, most teachers responded it “could be better.” Very few teachers responded either “this is great” or that they were “really struggling.”

Ann Van Brocklin, a Shakopee third-grade teacher who allowed the Shakopee Valley News to sit in on a virtual check-in with her class, said each morning, she and the three other third-grade teachers at Jackson Elementary send out a template of their students’ schedules each morning by 9 a.m. Each day, a different teacher takes responsibility for a screencast lesson.

“Some teachers individualized it more, but with the new technology component we’ve had to have baptism by fire,” she said. “This is totally changing the way we teach.”

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.


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