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Achievement Gaps in the Wake of COVID-19


A survey targeting education researchers conducted in November 2020 provides forecasts of how much achievement gaps between low- and high-income students in U.S elementary schools will change as a result of COVID-related disruptions to in-class instruction and family life. Relative to a pre-COVID achievement gap of 1.00 SD, respondents’ median forecasts for the jump in the achievement gaps in elementary school by spring 2021 were large–a change from 1.00 to 1.30 and 1.25 SD for math and reading achievement. Forecasts were similar for 2022. Although forecasts were heterogeneous, respondents showed overwhelming consensus that gaps would grow. We discuss implications for strategies to reduce learning gaps exacerbated by the pandemic as well as the mental models researchers appear to employ in making their forecasts.

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