28 Sep 2021

New NESET ad hoc report on the impact of COVID-19 on student learning outcomes across Europe

Nearly 1.6 billion learners in 188 countries have been affected by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, representing 94% of the world’s student population from pre-primary to higher education. In the EU, every EU Member State was affected by partial or total closures of educational institutions. Across the EU, schools were fully or partially closed for an average of 25.6 weeks between March 2020 and March 2021.

The recent NESET ad hoc report “The impact of COVID-19 on student learning outcomes across Europe: the challenges of distance education for all” provides a review of the available evidence on the impact of COVID-19-related school disruptions on student learning outcomes at primary and secondary level across the EU, and characterises the various factors identified as having had an impact on student learning. These factors include a reduction in teaching and learning time, in the frequency of individual contact with teachers, and in the capacity of teachers and students to adapt to distance education.  The report also analyses the available evidence on the role of the digital education in supporting students’ academic achievement in the context of distance schooling.

The report finds that school disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a general setback in primary and secondary student learning outcomes across the EU, with some exceptions in relation to certain school subjects and levels of education. Available research evidence demonstrates that students with a lower socio-economic status suffered a larger decline in their academic achievement than their peers from higher socio-economic backgrounds, and that this period may have long-term impacts on the development of students’ cognitive and socio-emotional skills. Emerging evidence suggests that the negative impacts of school closures may have been only partly mitigated through distance learning as well as outside-school interventions aimed at students and families.

The report was prepared by NESET network member Dalibor Sternadel.

You can find the full report in our Library.