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New Findings

Pandemic Schooling Mode and Student Test Scores: Evidence from US States

Working Paper

Clare Halloran, Rebecca Jack, James Okun, and Emily Oster

November 2021

The researchers estimate the impact of district-level schooling mode (in-person versus hybrid or distance learning) on test scores. The researchers combine Spring 2021 state standardized test score data with comprehensive data on schooling in the 2020-21 school year across 12 states. They find that pass rates declined compared to prior years and that these declines were larger in districts with less in-person instruction. Passing rates in math declined by 14.2 percentage points on average; we estimate this decline was 10.1 percentage points smaller for districts fully in-person. Changes in English language arts scores were smaller, but were significantly larger in districts with larger populations of students who are Black, Hispanic or eligible for free and reduced price lunch.