The need to prioritize education (News and Research 323)

Learning loss: a Covid-19 mass casualty | Poland, a high-income country and a human capital success story, has not escaped the impacts of Covid on education and has experienced significant learning loss. A study from Poland shows that 26 weeks of school closures led to learning loss equal to more than one academic year. Learning loss among the world’s school children has been one of the mass casualties of COVID-19. Pandemic-induced lockdown measures, which included school closures in most countries, forced 1.4 billion children out of school. A new paper, Capturing the Educational and Economic Impacts of School Closures in Poland, studies the effects of school closures on secondary school students’ math, science, and reading skills. It finds that learning loss in Poland was equal to more than one academic year, even though school closures lasted less than a school year (26 weeks).

ECA Talk: Education and Innovation | Presentation by Ufuk Akcigit, Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Chicago | How do innovation and education policy affect individual career choice and aggregate productivity? This talk discussed the various layers that connect R&D subsidies and higher education policy to productivity growth. The development of scarce talent and career choice is placed at the center of a new endogenous growth framework with individual-level heterogeneity in talent, frictions, and preferences. Education and innovation policies not only alleviate different frictions, but also impact innovation at different time horizons.

Uzbekistan and Singapore will create a joint Design and Engineering Center | The center will be involved in the design of the construction plan for the smart city Yangi Toshkent. Uzbekistan and Singapore have agreed to establish a joint Design and Engineering Center.

Germany’s education advantage over European peers at risk, study says | Germany is well positioned in education levels when compared with its European peers, but a study conducted by the IW economic institute showed that this privileged position could be at risk. Having a strong education and vocational training system is important to Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, which relies on skilled labor to support its high-end products and services. “Germany has been left behind to a certain extent in the strong expansion of education that has taken place throughout the European Union in recent years,” according to the study.

Education‑Job Mismatch and Heterogeneity in the Return to Schooling: Evidence from Cameroon  | This study analyzes the education-job mismatch effect on the return to education in Cameroon, by using data on employment provided by the National Institute of Statistics. Results show that overeducation is associated with a wage penalty while undereducation leads to a wage premium. With each year of schooling, differences in earning are significant between overeducated, undereducated, and well-matched people. They also show a substantial difference in the magnitude of coefficients with respect to the control variables for different types of selection model. This difference observed across different models implies that the estimation of returns to schooling is highly sensitive to the model’s specification.

The returns to an additional year of education for college graduates

This paper estimates the returns to an additional year of advanced undergraduate education among students who would otherwise graduate with a bachelor’s degree using administrative student records merged with survey data on earnings from the largest public university in Singapore. A regression discontinuity design that exploits the fact that in some faculties, enrollment in the fourth (honors) year is governed by a grade-based eligibility rule, is used. Students with average grades in their third year just above the threshold are significantly more likely to complete the fourth year and have higher earnings after graduation relative to students who narrowly missed the grade cutoff. The implied earnings return to the additional year of college is about 12 percent six months after graduation. Linked administrative tax data confirm persistent gains in the longer run for at least four years after graduation.

Technical change and wage premiums amongst skilled labour: Evidence from the economic transition | From the abstract: “Reduced-form and structural evidence that the reorganization of the Russian economy in the post-transitional period increased the demand on law and business graduates. This demand shock provides a novel unified explanation of the Russian wage structure for 1985–2015. This shock is a common feature of all transitional economies, and it contributed to the transformational recession. The demand behavior is identified with a new skill-biased technical change model of demand for skills with three production inputs (high school graduates and bachelor-level educations with two majors), showing that a technology shift that favors a particular skill might emerge within the skilled group rather than between skilled and unskilled. This is relevant because similar shifts (e.g., data scientists vs. liberal arts) emerge today in the frontier economies that adopt new general-purpose technologies (e.g., machine learning). Thus, this paper informs policymakers today on tools to counteract a potential drop in economic equality and performance that result from this adoption. Lastly, because of similarities between the mechanics of the transition and the 2022 sanctions to discourage Russia’s war effort, the results highlight the importance of additional sanctions against the education system to prevent the regime’s structural adaptation and preservation.” (emphasis added)

The Lasting Impacts of COVID-19 School Closures

The uphill battle: The amplifying effects of negative trends in test scores, COVID-19 school closures and teacher shortages | This paper investigates the education outcomes at the end of primary education in the presence of multiple shocks. Using the exact same formative test since 2019, it is documented how learning deficits accumulate over time due to existing negative trends in a school system and the amplifying effects of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparing the standardized test data at school level from the Flemish region of Belgium before and after the school closures suggests that in three years’ time the grade 6 school education outcomes decreased on average by -0.47 SD in Dutch, -0.31 SD in French, -0.12 SD in mathematics, -0.11 SD in science, and remained the same in social sciences. At student level, the estimates present the same significance and direction of the sign, although with lower magnitude. The learning deficits seem to accelerate over time, partly driven by the weak performance of the best-performing students and exacerbated in schools with high shares of teacher shortages. Controlling for time varying and school fixed effects, one percentage point increase in unfilled vacancies is associated with a decrease of -0.04 SD in Dutch and -0.05 SD in math proficiency. Summer schools seem to mitigate part of the learning deficits. The within-school inequality in test scores has not been reduced since the start of the pandemic. Despite an ongoing increase in between-school inequality in test scores, it slowed down in both 2021 and 2022.

The Lasting Impacts of Remote Learning in the Absence of Remedial Policies: Evidence from Brazil | The transition to remote learning in the context of Covid-19 led to dramatic setbacks in education. Is the return to in-person classes sufficient to eliminate these losses? On the one hand, if learning gaps slow down subsequent learning – because skills beget skills or because student motivation is set back once learning losses become apparent – or if remote learning disrupts latent factors related to learning more broadly – from teachers’ expectations to parental support –, then the gap between actual and expected learning might persist or even widen as in-person classes resume, unless remedial policies are in place. On the other hand, if most curricular skills are such that students can make up for setbacks rather quickly, and if student motivation and its sustaining environment are not persistently affected, then the gap between actual and expected learning should gradually fade out, even in the absence of remedial policies. This study uses data from the universe of secondary students in São Paulo State, Brazil. The authors estimate the causal medium-run impacts of keeping schools closed for longer during the pandemic through a triple-differences strategy, which contrasts changes in educational outcomes across municipalities and grades that resumed in-person classes earlier (2020) or only in 2021. It is found that relative learning losses from longer exposure to remote learning did not fade out over time – attesting that school reopening was at the same time key (since it cut losses short) but not enough to mitigate accumulated learning losses in face of persistence. Using observational and experimental variation in local responses across 645 municipalities, it is further document that remedial educational policies in the aftermath of the pandemic indeed boosted learning recovery in the State.

Schools in Kyrgyzstan lack 702 teachers | In Kyrgyzstan, schools, as of January 15, lack 702 teachers. This was reported to news agency by the Ministry of Education and Science. According to the ministry, most teachers are needed in the Chui region (257 people), the least – in the Naryn region (5) and Osh (7). There is a shortage of 138 teachers in Bishkek, 98 in Batken, 69 in Osh, 43 in Issyk-Kul, and 32 in Talas.


Designing effective public-private partnerships in education

Now in Arabic: تصميم شراكات فعالة بين القطاعين العام والخاص في مجال التعليم

Cited in: Political will in education (El Heraldo, in Spanish) | “Political will is generally exercised when the political and electoral ecosystem tends to stabilize, the public agenda begins to be more solid, and political agents find inflection points to reach agreements. On … January 13… the signing of the Alliance to Combat the Educational Gap… Harry A. Patrinos points out, in his article Designing effective public-private partnerships in education , published by the World Bank blog, that one of the greatest benefits that can be acquired by Relating the private sector with the public educational sector is that it promotes educational quality, since accountability is linked to the performance of resources and innovative processes…”