Policy lessons from research on the effect of the covid-19-crisis on learning growth and inequality in primary education

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


After more than a year of COVID-19-crisis and the school closures that followed all around the world, the concerns about decreases in learning growth and exacerbated inequalities are larger than ever. The discussion in this policy paper is based on analyses with unique data that are used to show how one full year of COVID-19-crisis in Dutch primary education has affected learning growth and pre-existing inequalities. Underlying these analyses is a dataset that includes more than 30% of Dutch primary school students from about 1,900 schools, with standardized test scores for reading, spelling and mathematics, as well as rich (family) background information of the students. The data show a lower learning growth after one and a half year for reading and math, compared with similar periods before the COVID-19-crisis, and a small higher learning growth for spelling. Furthermore, the data show that the decreases in learning growth are (much) larger for students with low parental socioeconomic status or income, and for students from one-parent-households. Given that there already were pre-existing inequalities between these students, this implies that inequalities have increased since the COVID-19-crisis. Furthermore, although the difference in learning growth during the crisis compared with periods before the crisis has decreased for all three domains throughout the crisis, implying that schools and students have caught up, the inequalities between students due to the COVID-19-crisis have remained the same since the start of the crisis. These results are quite alarming and suggest that distance learning could not compensate for classroom teaching (although it probably prevented some damage that would have occurred if students had not enjoyed any education at all) and that it even increased inequalities between students. Several policy conclusions are derived from this.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021
EventELF RoundTable Discussion - Rome, Italy
Duration: 4 Nov 20214 Nov 2021


ConferenceELF RoundTable Discussion


Dive into the research topics of 'Policy lessons from research on the effect of the covid-19-crisis on learning growth and inequality in primary education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this