The Longer Students Were Out of School, the Less They Learned | (News and Research 338)

COVID-19 led to school closures and emergency remote learning systems. It is feared that students learned less when they were remote.

Collapse and Recovery: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Eroded Human Capital and What to Do about It | Schady, Holla, Sabarwal, Silva, Yi Chang | There was a collapse of human capital and, unless that collapse is remedied, it is a time bomb for countries. There are alarming declines in cognitive and social-emotional development among young children, which could translate into a 25 percent reduction in their earnings as adults. More than a billion children in low- and middle-income countries missed at least one year of in-person schooling.

Protecting Human Capital Through Shocks and Crises | Rigolini, Coll-Black, de Hoyos, Nguyen | School closures have led to substantial learning losses, which, for some students, are equivalent to a full year of schooling or even more. The most important failures that led to massive learning losses were not necessarily in the design and implementation of distance learning modalities but in the excessive time during which schools were closed in many countries and the absence of strong post-pandemic measures needed to close learning gaps.

The Longer Students Were Out of School, the Less They Learned | It is estimated that for every week that schools were closed, learning levels declined by almost 1 percent of a standard deviation. That’s the conclusion of this paper that analyzes school closures during the pandemic using a unique data base. The determinants of the duration of school closures estimates were used to instrument school closures – stringency of lockdown and vaccination – and causally estimate the impact of duration on learning. Overall, this means that a 20 week closure, for example, would reduce learning outcomes by 0.20 standard deviation, almost one year of schooling.

Accelerating learning recovery for all in Romania | Alina Sava, Gallina Andronova Vincelette, Rita Almeida | Growing disparities between urban and rural areas are creating a “tale of two Romanias”: one Romania is urban, dynamic, and increasingly globally connected; the other is rural, poor, and isolated. These inequalities are most evident in education: students in rural areas, where 70% of Romanians in poverty live, are more than five times more likely to leave school early than their city-dwelling peers, according to Eurostat.

Rethinking Development in an Age of Crisis | Anna Bjerde | COVID-related education shocks could cost today’s students in low- and middle-income countries up to 10% of their future earnings.

Building Resilient Education Systems: Evidence from Large-Scale Randomized Trials in Five Countries | Noam Angrist et al | This paper present results from large-scale randomized trials evaluating the provision of education in emergency settings across five countries. Multiple scalable models of remote instruction for primary school children during COVID-19 are tested. Despite heterogeneous contexts, results show that the effectiveness of phone call tutorials can scale across contexts. The effect sizes are large: 0.30-0.35 standard deviations, and cost-effective, delivering up to four years of high-quality instruction per $100 spent, ranking in the top percentile of education programs and policies.

English schoolchildren are still missing months of classes | The pandemic is over. Persistent absence is the new epidemic.

In America, school test results are still lagging behind pre-covid levels | Only 20% of the decline in pass rates for English has been recovered.

School closures and longer-term implications of COVID-19 for inter-generational mobility | In the absence of remedial measures, learning losses are likely to significantly reduce intergenerational mobility in a wide range of countries.

Why hasn’t the pandemic sparked more concern for learning losses in Latin America? The perils of an invisible crisis | There is now overwhelming evidence that children’s learning plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Latin America. Surprisingly, there has been little public outcry in the region for school systems to act on learning recovery compared to the rest of the world.

The Terrible Truth: Current Solutions to COVID Learning Loss Are Doomed to Fail | MargaretRaymond | Even with 5 extra years of education, only about 75% of students will be at grade level by high school graduation. And no school can offer that much

COVID-19 Hit Schools Unequally, But Data Shows Learning Recovery Is Equally Slow | Nadia Tamez-Robledo | When schools were forced to go remote during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it shone a spotlight on inequities that had long plagued education.

Gone with the pandemic: how did Covid-19 affect the academic performance of Colombian students?

Learning loss in vulnerable student populations after the first COVID-19 school closure in the Netherlands

Improving Reading Abilities, Attitudes and Practices during COVID : Results from a Home-Based Intervention of Supplementary Texts for Young Readers in Cambodia


It Is Time to Put Education and Skills First | A year of education is estimated to raise future earnings by 10%. That is a large and significant return, along with the other benefits of more education. And that’s only what the person pursuing the education can expect to receive. One’s family, community, and country also benefit. That is to say, education has both private and social returns. 

I spoke about learning loss and recovery at this Forbes and EdHeroesNetwork event in Paris on a roundtable on Leading the Global Economic Race: Growth through Education Innovation, with Boris Bulayev, Ferro Ferizka and Alina Baimen.

New book by Robert Klitgaard: Bold and Humble: How to Lead Public-Private-Citizen Collaboration, with Five Success Stories (free online): A wonderful book. As always, Klitgaard writes great prose embedded with analysis and engaging examples. A truly useful global perspective and a pleasurable read.

Analyzing education outcomes and skills mismatch in Croatia’s lagging Slavonia region | Lucia Brajkovic, Diego Ambasz | Amid overlapping crises—climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and high inflation—it is imperative for governments to ensure that communities, especially rural ones, do not fall behind. While they play a crucial role in national economies, many “lagging regions” across Europe face complex and persistent challenges that must be addressed. The education sector can help in resolving these issues by implementing transformative efforts, including raising the quality of education and aligning the skills of the local workforce with the needs of the global economy, ultimately promoting local growth and prosperity.

ECA Talk Returns to Education Turns 50 on March 29, 2023, Event Replay. Watch the discussion from earlier this week reassessing progress made on measuring the benefits of education 50 years after the publication of George Psacharopoulos’ pivotal study Returns to Education. Timestamps for remarks and panel discussions during the event replay are marked under the Agenda tab.

Classic Paper: The optimal ability-education mix and the misallocation of resources within education magnitude for developing countries | Sebastian Piñera, Marcelo Selowsky | 1981 Journal of Development Economics 8(1): 111-131 | The central notion of this paper is the hypothesis of factor complementarity between preschool ability and schooling in determining labor productivity. Hence, an optimal allocation of existing educational resources across students with different abilities ought to induce a positive and perfect correlation between ability and schooling. A system where schooling is determined by factors other than ability (i.e., the selection process of that system) induces a misallocation of present resources in education. An analytical framework is specified to derive magnitudes of the economic cost of this misallocation. It is shown that these values are substantial when compared to the welfare cost of other types of resource misallocation in developing countries.

Submit a Manuscript to the Journal Education Economics for a Special Issue on the 50th Anniversary of the Returns to Education: An International Comparison | Manuscript deadline: 31 October 2023 | Special Issue Editor: Harry Patrinos, World Bank | Submit An Article | This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book, Returns to Education: An International Comparison, by George Psacharopoulos (assisted by Keith Hinchliffe). Education Economics is publishing a special issue to mark this occasion and the contributions of Professor Psacharopoulos. The focus of this special issue is research on the returns to education. Research on international comparisons and /or  returns to education in less developed economies are especially welcome.