Overcoming COVID-19 Learning Losses (News and Research 311)

How can covid learning loss be overcome? | Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank’s global director of education, tells Anne McElvoy how to fix what could be the worst educational crisis for a century. The COVID-19 pandemic starved young brains. Estimates suggest that globally schoolchildren may be eight months behind where they’d normally be. Host Anne McElvoy asks Jaime Saavedra, global director of education at the World Bank, how kids can catch up after “the worst educational crisis for a century”. They discuss the education policies that could make a difference, and why political will is the key to implementing them. Run time: 23 min

Investing in human capital and putting people first  | Rose Tembo knows how easily her education could have ended in secondary school, years earlier than she wished, when her family ran out of money to pay school fees. She credits the help she received from the World Bank’s supported Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) Project in Zambia, for making it possible for her to complete her education and go on to university…

The labor market effects of the polish educational reform of 1999  | This paper estimates the effect of the 1999 education reform in Poland on employment and earnings. The 1999 education reform in Poland replaced the previous 8 years of general and 3/4/5 years of tracked secondary education with 9 years of general and 3/3/4 years of tracked upper-secondary education. The reform also introduced new curricula, national examinations, teacher standards, and a transparent financing scheme. The identification strategy relies on a difference-in-differences approach using a quasi-panel of pooled year-of-survey and age-of-respondent observations from the Polish sample of the EU-SILC database. The results indicate that the reform has increased employment probability (by around 3 percentage points) and earnings (by around 4%).

No evidence of a major learning slide 14 months into the COVID-19 pandemic in Denmark  | A study of the effects of COVID-19 on children’s academic performance in Denmark 14 months into the pandemic using nationwide and exceptionally rich data on reading test scores and family background finds no evidence of a major learning loss. While pupils in grade 8 experienced a three-percentile points loss in reading performance, pupils in grades 2 and 4 experienced a learning gain of about five percentile points, possibly resulting from school closures being significantly longer among older (22 weeks) than younger children (eight weeks). There is little evidence of widening learning gaps by family background. Further analyses point to that all of these patterns were already in place a few months into pandemic, suggesting that learning gaps did not widen during subsequent, longer school closures. There is some indication that boys and low-performing pupils suffered more from school closures than girls and high-performing pupils, but these differences are minor.

Collaboration Schools: An initiative to strengthen equity and inclusion in South Africa | In 2016, the Western Cape Education Department, under the leadership of Minister Debbie Schafer and with support from the Education Partnerships Group, sought to address the issues of quality arising from poor governance, leadership and teaching in these communities with the introduction of Collaboration Schools, a partnership between the Department and non-profit operators, designed to increase funding, governance and management capacity to no-fee government schools, which will remain non-selective. This model has been piloted for five years and now spans 14 schools and 7 operating partners. Collaboration Schools introduce support from ‘school operating partners’, which are non-profit education organizations committed to improve the quality of teaching and overall learning outcomes for children. The pilot was subject to internal reviews, as well as an external evaluation. The latter has yet to be published, but the internal review has highlighted lessons to be learned in terms of what has worked, and what hasn’t.