Students Lost One-Third of a School Year to Pandemic, Study Finds

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Children experienced learning disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, equivalent to about one-third of a grade’s worth of knowledge and skills, and recovered from those losses by more than two years, according to a new global analysis. I didn’t.

Researchers say learning delays and regressions are most severe among students in developing countries and those from low-income backgrounds, exacerbating existing inequalities and pushing children into higher education and the workforce. threatens to

Analysis published in the journal on Monday nature human behavior It utilized data from 15 countries to provide the most comprehensive account of the academic challenges posed by the pandemic to date. and other stressors that plagued the family, suggesting it wasn’t fixed when school doors reopened.

“We have to do more than just get back to normal to make up for what was lost. Bastian BethauserResearcher at the Center for the Study of Social Inequalities, Sciences Po, Paris, and co-author of the review. He urged authorities around the world to provide intensive summer programs and tutoring efforts targeting the poorest and most lagging students.

Thomas KaneDean of the Center for Educational Policy Research at Harvard University, Ph.D., who studies school disruption in the United States, reviewed the global analysis. Without prompt and proactive intervention, “learning loss will be the pandemic’s longest lasting and most unfair legacy,” he said.

Prior to COVID-19, crises such as the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and the lingering teachers’ strike in Argentina showed that prolonged school refusal could have lasting consequences. was showing But nothing matched the scope of Covid. 1.6 billion children worldwide A significant amount of class time was missed during the peak of the pandemic, according to UNICEF.

To quantify the impact, the researchers combined findings from 42 different studies published between March 2020 and August 2022. These studies span middle- and high-income countries in the Americas, Europe, and southern Africa. The global education deficit amounted to about 35% of the school year and remained “incredibly stable” in the years that followed, Betteuser said.

According to Betthäuser, the delay was greater in math than in reading. This is probably because math requires more formal instruction, and reading skills improve as children grow and their brains develop. Data show that students of lower socioeconomic status carry much of the burden. This is likely because they faced noisy study spaces, spotty internet connections, and financial turmoil.

Dr. Damon Cove is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, heart development centerwas not surprised to find that learning disabilities were consistent across grades. He also struggled to get back into the classroom quickly. He also said it was “the most I’ve ever seen in my career” of teenagers returning to school with anxiety disorders. .

Dr. Cove said he hopes to see more in-depth studies quantifying delays in unique learners who are stuck behind computer screens and inaccessible to aides, such as students with attention disorders and autism. rice field.

The deficit was more pronounced in middle-income countries such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa than in high-income countries such as Australia. Sweden, which largely avoided school closures, did not show a large academic deficit, and Denmark did well. (Denmark has closed schools, but Betteuser said the country’s strong welfare structure may be a buffer against stressors elsewhere.)

The researchers excluded low-income countries from the analysis, saying they lacked sufficient data. Bethhauser believes losses could be even worse in these situations and called for further investigation.

In the United States, a study showed that the average public elementary and middle school student lost out. Equivalent to half a year Also, 6% of students belonged to school districts that had lost a year or more.standardized 2022 math test scorescompared to 2019, biggest drop ever 30 years after the test was first administered.

The findings challenge many parents’ perceptions. in the 2022 survey They don’t believe their child is suffering from poor academic performance during the pandemic, with only 9% expressing concern about whether their child will catch up.

another Review test scores of 2.1 million students In the United States, the impact of economic inequality was highlighted. Students in schools in high-poverty communities will spend more of the 2020-2021 school year in distance learning than students in schools in wealthier communities, and students in poorer schools will perform better when they are remote. experienced a sharp decline in

But Sean Reardon, a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University, said, “Allocating these deficits entirely to school closures means missing out on many of the mechanisms at work here. Underprivileged students faced a myriad of distractions as parents lost their jobs and other students with essential jobs were infected at an alarming rate.

Analysts also found that for most of 2020-2021, even within school districts that were remote, poorer schools lost twice as much learning progress as wealthier schools in the same district.

“A child’s ability to learn and a teacher’s ability to teach is shaped by so many factors, not just whether they are physically in the building,” Reardon said. “If everyone were equally late at the same time, it probably wouldn’t affect their chances of getting into college. It’s a global concern.”

Due to the limited ability of children to absorb new things, teachers cannot simply move classes forward or extend class hours, making traditional interventions such as tutoring the most unfavorable. It rarely targets privileged groups. In the absence of creative solutions, the labor market should “prepare for severe downstream repercussions,” he said.

Children who were in school during the pandemic could lose about $70,000 in income in their lifetime if the deficit is not reversed, according to Eric Hanusek, an economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. In some states, pandemic-era students were finally able to earn an income almost 10% decrease than those who were educated just before the pandemic.

He said social losses could reach $28 trillion this century.

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