The rapid reopening of schools after the March 2020 confinement minimized setbacks, which were around 13% of what is learned in a course
The good management carried out by the Spanish educational and health authorities, as well as the regional ones, during the hardest moments of the coronavirus pandemic made it possible for Spanish students to lose only half as much knowledge as the majority of schoolchildren during the closure of schools and institutes. from developed countries.
This is revealed by a report prepared by Esade and Cotec, which compares the data from the external diagnostic tests carried out by the Basque Institute for Educational Evaluation and Research on all second-year ESO students in the Basque Country in March 2021 -one year later of closure of educational centers with the first state of alarm – with the identical evaluation carried out on the students of this course in 2019 and those of the fourth year of Primary in 2017. The experts consider that the results of the Basque evaluation, the only one carried out in Spain for determine the school damage caused by the coronavirus, are, broadly speaking, valid for the rest of the country, since the entire educational system followed a very similar strategy in the face of the crisis.
The check indicates that the learning loss of Spanish students due to the suspension for almost three months of 2020 of face-to-face classes represented a setback in knowledge equivalent to 13% of the course, more or less the amount of knowledge that is acquired in a month and a half of school. This learning deficit is half that detected in many of the most developed countries that have measured it.
The suspension of face-to-face classes had a much higher impact on the learning deficit in public centers than in concerted ones
The fundamental reason, explains Lucas Gortázar, Director of Education at Esade, is that Spain was one of the countries that managed to keep educational centers closed for the shortest time, which in the worst case scenario reopened in September 2020 and that they no longer they closed the shutters not even at the most critical moments of the successive waves. It was the fourth fastest OECD country to reopen. “It is due to a partial recovery of learning lost after the efficient reopening of schools, much higher and faster than the rest of the OECD. The results show that the school reopening of the 2020/21 academic year helped alleviate part of the negative effects of confinement on students », he summarized.
The analysis clarifies, however, that the loss of knowledge during the first year of the pandemic varied considerably depending on the subject. While in Spanish Language the drop in students was almost non-existent (he recovered without any problem), in Mathematics the general deficit reached 25%, a quarter of what is learned in a course. In any case, while in the same school or institute there are no differences between the more or less economically vulnerable students, it is seen that those who suffer a greater loss of learning are those who, before covid, had better academic results. It could be explained by the simplification of curricula adopted in the return to facilitate the general learning of the essentials.
Not only the subjects present differences. There are also notable distances between public and concerted centers. While in concerted schools the loss of Mathematics knowledge is reduced to 7%, in public institutes it is 54%, half a course. The experts believe that this better result of the concerted ones is due to the fact that the teachers had to make a greater effort to justify themselves before parents who pay fees every month, because the centers have greater autonomy when making decisions in case of contingencies since they had an advantage in online teaching and the digitization of centers and students. Despite this, there is a caveat that can introduce a certain bias in the results. In Euskadi the concertada is half of the system. Public centers only cover 51% of ESO students compared to almost 68% on average in the rest of the communities.
The work also collects data on the socio-emotional well-being of students during the pandemic. The survey among Basque adolescents indicates that the most socioeconomically disadvantaged students and with the lowest level of education prior to the pandemic are those who suffered the most deterioration in their socio-emotional well-being.
Measurements and shortcomings
The Cotec and Esade analysis is completed with another document, ‘Policies and practices to deal with learning loss’, an analysis of the most common lines of action to reverse learning setbacks due to the pandemic adopted by Spanish and international educational administrations and its gaps.
Most of the administrations agreed to reinforce teaching in Primary and Secondary, both in Mathematics and in Language, in providing socio-emotional support to students, in caring for families and the environment, and in offering complementary individualized and extracurricular tutoring. Among the pending challenges, the study highlights the shortcomings in evaluation and monitoring, in the training of teachers to deal with diversity, in specific measures for VT, or in the development of inclusive practices in schools.
Ainara Zubillaga, Director of Education at Cotec, highlights that “the reinforcement initiatives continue to function mainly in parallel to the educational system and the activity of the centers, which have the challenge of incorporating them into their practices”. Ella Zubillaga recalls that learning loss was accompanied by socio-emotional impacts on students, for which “the dimension of well-being is revealed as a priority after the pandemic and fortunately public policies are beginning to consider it as such”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.