Yes, the pandemic-era school closures were a disaster

James Pethokoukis:

A brief reminder: Back in the summer of 2020, I tried to hammer home the point that preventing kids from going to school full-time and in-person during the coming school year would be a terrible idea with serious consequences for the kids and the country. School is more than just a place where younger students stay while their parents work, or a way for older students to get a certificate that helps them find better jobs. Deep economic research has shown that education really matters in helping kids grow into productive adults, including as workers in a complex, globalized economy. Those findings are seen to be as true today as when they were first identified in the 1950s. Indeed, a 2018 World Bank analysis shows the benefits increasing since 2000.

We now have a pretty good, albeit unsurprising, idea of the impact of the move to online learning and hybrid schedules. Here are some key takeaways from the Richmond Fed review:

  • “Learning progress slowed substantially in the U.S. during the pandemic.” According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test of U.S. eight graders, the average score of students rose by 20 points in the 30 years before the pandemic. But between 2019 and 2022, the average score went down by 8 points, which means that they lost almost half of what they had gained before.