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unesco - Learning Outcomes and Assessment Matter Weekly News Alert, 1-4 May 2020 Issue

Subject: Learning Outcomes and Assessment Matter Weekly News Alert, 1-4 May 2020 Issue


[Listen] Episode 23: How have countries dealt with coronavirus school closures and what’s next for education? OECD Education. 29 April 2020.

Listen to the OECD Education's TopClass podcast with Andreas Schleicher (Director for Education and Skills at the OECD), Stefania Giannini (ADG for Education at the UNESCO) and Fernando M. Reimers (Professor of the Practice in International Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education).
With schools closed worldwide, students and teachers must find ways of learning remotely. Meanwhile, governments attempt to assess the impact of school closures and make plans for education in a post-crisis world – a world that may be fundamentally altered. Have governments’ responses worked? And does the crisis imply that we need to change the next generation’s education?

[Read] The COVID-19 cost of school closures. Brookings Institute. 29 April 2020.

This article discusses the long-term impact of lost incomes on youth and the future economy of the current policy response through estimating projected potential losses of future earnings due to the school closures, so that governments can make choices on mitigating the economic downward spiral.
Projected future earnings losses on students and the economy show that …

Identified losses include the uneven quality of learning, differences in provision of effective distance learning, and economic pressures on some children, among many others.
Based on the data, the world could lose as much as $10 trillion over the next generation.

[Read] School closures, government responses, and learning inequality around the world during COVID-19. Brookings Institute. 28 April 2020.

The author looks into how states’ response affect student learning across regions, countries of various income levels, and countries as measured by international assessments, using the data from the Center for Global Development and the World Bank’s classification method.
Overall, the data suggest that the pandemic leaves impacts on education worldwide, esp. those in low-income countries. The learning gap between rich and poor will continue to grow, between high- and low-income countries and regions.

[Read] Are students still learning during Covid-19? Formative assessment can provide the answer. World Bank. 27 April 2020.

This article asks the following questions related to learning assessment amidst the crisis:

- What are the challenges and priorities?

School closures engenders the need for formative assessment, so that teachers and parents can understand whether or not students absorb the content that is delivered to them remotely.

- How can formative assessment support learning during the school closures?

It can be administered in synchronous and asynchronous forms; it can happen even in low-resource and low-connectivity contexts; and formative assessment needs to be valid, timely, constructive, and specific to the child.

[Read] How do we re-open schools after the coronavirus pandemic?OECD Education. 27 April 2020.

The right time for the schools re-opening is difficult to determine. Three areas of focus are dominating decision-makers’ discussions about post-pandemic physical learning environments:

Encouraging new hygiene habits through providing 1) sanitation spaces and services, 2) procurement of sanitation/hygiene products, e.g. sanitising gel, and 3) training of students and teachers on basic hygiene and the symptoms of coronavirus.
Enabling social distancing in schools by 1) ensuring that students be two metres (or six feet) away from each other, 2) changing the scheduling to reduce student numbers inside learning spaces, 3) providing spaces around the schools under shading in milder climates, and 4) making well-ventilated spaces available.
Strengthening online learning by providing devices to disconnected students while ramping up alternative channels for distance learning such as TV and radio for those with little or no access to online resources.

[Read] Covid-19 school closures and the summer break. GEM Report. 24 April 2020.

The author proposes that schools may need to be flexible to change school calendars to use the summer break in focusing on supporting students who have been further marginalised by the crisis.
Interestingly, the author points to the different periods of summer break in different countries, meaning that each country can maintain the loss of learning variously, e.g. Italy has one longer summer break than other European countries such as the Netherlands.

[Read] When Should Schools Reopen?Center for Global Development. 23 April 2020.

Governments (in high-income countries), which consider the following options, have decided to reopen their schools: 1) They consider whether or not their countries have passed the peak, 2) It is because there is not yet evidence suggesting children are a vector for Covid transmission, and 3) School closures give adversarial consequences, e.g. the significant learning loss, the lack of school meals, potential risk of domestic violence, and the implications for their parents’ productivity.
Recommendations for developing countries which have not yet passed the peak for new infections.

Keeping schools closed appears to be good politics for now, because of impractical reasons, e.g., keeping kids two meters apart may be impossible, frequent hand washing may also pose a problem, and developing countries may be more vulnerable to school-based outbreaks of Covid-19.

[Read] Safely back to school after coronavirus closures. McKinsey & Company. April 2020.

Systems can consider three questions when considering the reopening schools.

- When should schools reopen?

Four components should be considered: 1) risks to public health, 2) schools’ importance to economic activity, 3) impacts on students’ learning and thriving, and 4) safeguarding readiness.

-For which segments of students and teachers should schools reopen?

Schools could keep student groups dispersed and prioritise students in transitional years. Physical distancing is easier in examination halls, and older students tend to follow safety protocols.

-What safety measures should schools adopt?

Decision makers need to determine whether or not reopening schools will lead to a resurgence of infection among students, staff, and the broader community.

Disclaimer: This News Alert is prepared by the SABLO (System Alignment for Better Learning Outcomes) programme (Section of Education Policy, Division of Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems, Education Sector, UNESCO) to share latest news and resources on current issues related to learning outcomes and assessment.

Please feel free to circulate further within your networks. For enquiries or contributions, please contact: or

All articles, posts, news and data included in the Alert express the views or opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of UNESCO. The designations employed and the presentation of material do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

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