Experts from the Evidence Institute conducted a study of secondary school students in Warsaw to check how they approach learning in schools disrupted by the pandemic. Their analyzes show that among adolescents, current second-graders from high school have lost the most.

83 secondary schools took part in a study conducted by economists and specialists in education systems, Dr. Maciej Jakubowski and Dr. Tomas Jacderowicz, at the request of the Warsaw City Council. In total, data were collected from 4581 students from the second grade after primary school for eight years and from the third grade, after primary and secondary school (this is the last year studied in these schools).

Nature is the worst

Their research points to the International Proficiency Questionnaire for 15-year-olds in the Program for International Student Assessment. They relied on similar testing tools that measure math, reading comprehension, and reasoning skills in the natural sciences. The researchers identified a group of adolescents in Warsaw from PISA research in previous years. They compared their results to the results of their tests taken earlier this school year.

This time, the study included older teens than those tested in the PISA study, and the researchers said they took that into account. -Based on our knowledge and PISA research from previous years, we can estimate that during the study year, students should receive at least ten points on the PISA scale – explained Dr. Gajderowicz while presenting the data on Friday. He added: – We also adopted a model that allowed us to distinguish the impact of the pandemic from structural changes in education related to reform.

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The reform, the liquidation of middle schools, began in September 2017. What was its impact? We can compare what students who previously attended middle school know with those who were in elementary school for eight years, says Dr. Jakubowski. Our analysis shows that the largest loss due to the reform was recorded by students of natural sciences.

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The weakest have the biggest problems

What about distance learning? The researchers noted that students considered the weakest to be the most lost. – They are less motivated, harder to learn, so it is not surprising that distance learning hits them more – comments Dr. Jakubowski. They are only because of the epidemic – say the researchers – “two categories are back”. And so, as Dr. Jagderovich emphasized – the estimates are “extremely cautious”.

The researchers explained that their analyzes show that ordinary students in Warsaw lost two years because “the epidemic interfered with reform.” – Jakubowski noted that the largest knowledge gap between the groups we studied is the second year after the reform, that is, the current sophomores from secondary schools.

Presenting the report, Renata Kaznowska, Warsaw’s Vice-President in charge of education, said: – It is important for us to know all this. Together with school administrators, we want to look at these findings and think about solutions that will be beneficial for students. It’s too bad, and in a year we may have nothing to collect after two or three, so we have to act – he adds.

Do students in other parts of Poland have similar problems? – We analyzed only the results from Warsaw, but there is no reason to believe that others do not have such problems – Dr. Maciej Jakubowski commented. – Bearing in mind that students in Warsaw who have studied in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) do on average better than the rest of the country, it can be assumed that they do better here as well – concluded.

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