Suspension of face-to-face instruction in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to concerns about consequences for student learning. So far, data to study this question have been limited. Here [the authors] evaluate the effect of school closures on primary school performance using exceptionally rich data from the Netherlands [...]. The Netherlands represents a best-case scenario with a relatively short lockdown (8 weeks) and high degree of technological preparedness. [The authors] use the fact that national exams took place before and after lockdown, and compare progress during this period to the same period in the three previous years using a difference-in-differences design. Our results reveal a learning loss of about 3 percentile points or 0.08 standard deviations. These results remain robust when balancing on the estimated propensity of treatment and using maximum entropy weights, or with fixed-effects specifications that compare students within the same school and family. Losses are up to 55% larger among students from less-educated homes. Investigating mechanisms, [the authors] find that most of the effect reflects the cumulative impact of knowledge learned rather than transitory influences on the day of testing. The average learning loss is equivalent to a fifth of a school year, nearly exactly the same period that schools remained closed. These results imply that students made little or no progress whilst learning from home, and suggest much larger losses in countries less prepared for remote learning.
Distance-Schooling, International, Kinder im Grundschulalter, Niederlande, Quantitative Studie
Engzell, Per, Frey, Arun, Verhagen, Mark (2020). Learning inequality during the Covid-19 pandemic.