No Evidence of a Major Learning Slide 14 Months into the COVID-19 Pandemic in Denmark

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We study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s academic performance in Denmark 14 months into the pandemic using nationwide and exceptionally rich data on reading test scores and family background (N ≈ 200.000 per year). We find no evidence of a major learning loss. While pupils in grade 8 experienced a three percentile points loss in reading performance, pupils in grades 2 and 4 experienced a learning gain of about five percentile points, possibly resulting from school closures being significantly longer among older (22 weeks) than younger children (eight weeks). Importantly and in contrast to pre-registered expectations, we find little evidence of widening learning gaps by family background. Further analyses point to that all of these patterns were already in place a few months into pandemic, suggesting that learning gaps did not widen during subsequent, longer school closures. We also find some indication that boys and low-performing pupils suffered more from school closures than girls and high-performing pupils, but these differences are minor. We discuss which political measures may have been instrumental for overcoming the COVID-19 learning slide in Denmark.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Societies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)468-488
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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