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Learning loss in the Covid-19 pandemic: teachers’ views on the nature and extent of loss

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Carroll, Matthew 
Constantinou, Filio 


The Covid-19 pandemic caused unprecedented disruption to education around the world. As education systems gradually return to normal, there is a push to understand effects of the disruption. A major impact on students is “learning loss”, in which attainment and progress may have fallen behind expected levels. Various efforts have been made to quantify learning loss, but to better understand it, further work, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, is required. Here, we sought to record teachers’ views on how far behind (or ahead) their students were compared to a “typical” year, and to gather their opinions about what had been lost (or gained). To do this, we surveyed teachers in schools that work with Cambridge CEM. We received over 400 responses, spread across 38 countries and 198 schools, thus giving a broad sample of experiences.

A majority of respondents felt their students were behind expectations. 1–2 months behind was the most common estimate, but some respondents made much larger estimates of loss, while a sizeable minority thought that their students were on track or even ahead of expectations. Descriptions of the areas of loss indicated that fundamental literacy and numeracy skills had been affected, as had practical skills and general study skills. Responses also described variable impacts, both within and between groups of students.

Effects of Covid-related disruption on education are ongoing and may be felt for some time still to come. By exploring the nature and extent of learning loss in students, it is hoped that it will be possible to better understand, and hopefully mitigate, these longer-term impacts.



COVID-19, Standards

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Research Matters

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Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment

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