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OCED Test Scores Find Pandemic School Closures Affected Student Performance

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A student uses a tablet during a lesson at a junior high school in Saitama on Nov. 27.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicated that school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a decline in global student academic performance.

The OECD conducted the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for the first time since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The average scores across OECD countries declined from the previous 2018 survey in all three areas of reading, mathematics and science.

The OECD analyzed the relationship between pandemic-induced school closures and math performance.

Countries and regions with a lower percentage of students reporting that they experienced “more than three months of closures” tended to have higher scores than those with a higher percentage, according to the OECD survey.

Taiwan, which ranked third in mathematics, had a low percentage of students experiencing “closures for more than three months” at 9.8%. South Korea, which ranked sixth, also had a low percentage of such students at 20.8%, both well below the OECD average of 50.3%.

On the other hand, Germany, ranked 25th in mathematics, went down five places from the previous survey, with a high percentage of 71.3% of its students experiencing school closures for more than three months.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director for the directorate of education and skills, acknowledged that there is a correlation between school closures and declining academic performances.

However, he also said some countries mitigated the damage by creating an environment that complements learning, such as distance learning and teacher support, even when schools were closed.

“In Japan, the school closures were short, and students’ academic performance was supported by shortened summer vacations and other factors. However, compared to other countries, Japan was unable to respond adequately to children from needy families and those who are truant from school,” said Prof. Daisuke Sonoyama of Osaka University, an expert on the state of schools around the world.

“Long-term monitoring of students is important, not just in terms of academic performance, but also in terms of how the school’s handling of the closures affected the students,” he said.