UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Understanding learning loss during the pandemic – implications for assessment

Grima, Grace; Golding, Jennie; (2021) Understanding learning loss during the pandemic – implications for assessment. Presented at: AEA-Europe conference 2021, Online conference. Green open access

[thumbnail of Golding_20.10.21AEAE 2021 -Learning Loss.pdf]
Golding_20.10.21AEAE 2021 -Learning Loss.pdf

Download (1MB) | Preview


In the year to March 2021, most school students in England experienced at least two sustained periods of pandemic-related school closures: most of mid-March – early September 2020, and January-early March 2021. Once returned to school, they commonly experienced significant continuing constraints on learning (Redmond, Golding & Grima, 2021; Golding & Grima, 2021). Studies on associated ‘learning loss’ are currently ongoing. One such (EEF/NFER, 2021) focuses on Year 2 (age 6-7) pupils’ November 2020 performance to identify common patterns and misconceptions (n~6000 pupils in 168 schools). The findings indicate that overall performance on reasoning and arithmetic papers was lower than in 2017 and that the curriculum areas children tend to find more challenging saw the biggest drop in performance in 2020. Another study (EPI & Renaissance Learning, 2021) for school years 3-9 analyses children’s ‘Star Assessment’ October 2020 outcomes compared with those of previous years (for mathematics, ~55,000 assessments per year). These assessments are frequently used by schools as baselines. The study found that the learning loss in mathematics was already, before the 2021 school closures, more than 3 months for primary children and also significant for secondary students (though robust quantification was not possible). Blainey and Hannay (2021) show some recovery from this by late Autumn 2020. A GL study (2021) compares progress in GL assessment scores for cohorts 2018 to 2019 (~300k students), with progress for cohorts 2019-2020 (~200k students), using matched school samples across age 5-16. In mathematics the progress in standardised age assessment (m=100, s=15) was ~7 points lower in primary and ~4 points lower in secondary. Such studies are valuable for policy and practice as they give important insights into the impact of the pandemic and, given the numbers, are able to focus on subgroups in particular. However, their focus on easily measurable estimates of ‘learning loss’ may be missing important aspects of learning loss that are harder to quantify and often less tractable to address. Our 2016-21 longitudinal studies on mathematics in primary and upper secondary settings (e.g. Redmond, Golding & Grima, 2021; Golding & Grima, 2021) are designed for in-depth understanding of use of curriculum and assessment resources, enactment and learning, rather than quantitative messages about cohorts: our progression data is largely to contextualise our sample. This methodology provides us also with insights into teaching and learning journeys during the 2020-2021 pandemic period in England and also the implications for low- and high- stakes assessment. What we see reflected across our studies, is that some parts of the curriculum, such as routine facts and procedures, are relatively easy to teach remotely (though still often not easy to learn remotely); what has been marginalised in both remote and back-to-school-constrained learning, are those aspects of the curriculum we value highly, and which have renewed focus in the new mathematics curricula, but are harder to teach (and learn): deeply connected concepts, problem solving, reasoning, communication, modelling (and associated mathematically productive dispositions). This is true even for 16-18 year old, more mature and ‘digital native’ students. Those are also the mathematical elements that are hardest to assess. It is therefore important that we focus on such learning outcomes also, rather than focusing solely on aspects of the curriculum that are easier to assess. In this presentation, we will discuss our findings in relation to these areas. They are aspects of mathematics learning that might have a massive impact on future as well as current ‘recovery’ learning: on its depth and robustness, and also its use in other subjects. Sharing work such as ours adds value to our understanding of learning loss during the pandemic.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Understanding learning loss during the pandemic – implications for assessment
Event: AEA-Europe conference 2021
Location: Online conference
Dates: 03 - 06 November 2021
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://2021.aea-europe.net/
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10157467
Downloads since deposit
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item