Students lost about 35% of a year’s learning during the pandemic, study says
While the school closures and online learning were meant to slow the spread of the pandemic, the new study suggests that the measures had a significant setback in children’s learning progress
January 31, 2023 6:55pm
Updated: January 31, 2023 6:55pm
School students across the world lost about 35% of a normal school year’s worth of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid school closures and online classes, according to a new paper published on Monday.
While the school closures and online learning were meant to slow the spread of the pandemic, the new study suggests that the measures had a significant setback in children’s learning progress.
“Schoolchildren’s learning progress slowed down substantially during the pandemic. So on average, children lost out on about one-third of what they would have usually learned in a normal school year, and these learning deficits arose quite early in the pandemic,” said Bastian Betthäuser, an author of the paper and researcher at the Sciences Po Centre for Research on Social Inequalities in France and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
“Children still have not recovered the learning that they lost out on at the start of the pandemic,” he said… “Education inequality between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds increased during the pandemic. So the learning crisis is an equality crisis. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds were disproportionately affected by school closures.”
The paper, published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, studied data from 42 across 15 countries, including the United States, Australia, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, and Belgium, among others.
“We systematically reviewed all of the existing research on school children’s learning progress during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Betthäuser said. “And it’s important to note that most of the existing research comes from high- and middle-income countries, whereas there’s a few studies from low-income countries.”
The results of the study match other data about learning loss during the pandemic. In October, results from the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that several students had fallen behind in reading and math. Similarly, a Pew Research Center Survey suggests that 61% of parents said that the pandemic had a negative effect on their children’s education.