School's Out: Experimental Evidence on Limiting Learning Loss Using “Low-Tech” in a Pandemic

40 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2020 Last revised: 24 Jan 2022

See all articles by Noam Angrist

Noam Angrist

World Bank; University of Oxford; Young 1ove Organisation

Peter Bergman

Columbia University

Moitshepi Matsheng

Independent

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

Schools closed extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic and occur in other settings, such as teacher strikes and natural disasters. This paper provides some of the first experimental evidence on strategies to minimize learning loss when schools close. We run a randomized trial of low-technology interventions – SMS messages and phone calls – with parents to support their child. The combined treatment cost-effectively improves learning by 0.12 standard deviations. We develop remote assessment innovations, which show robust learning outcomes. Our findings have immediate policy relevance and long-run implications for the role of technology and parents as partial educational substitutes when schooling is disrupted.

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Noam and Angrist, Noam and Bergman, Peter and Matsheng, Moitshepi, School's Out: Experimental Evidence on Limiting Learning Loss Using “Low-Tech” in a Pandemic (December 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28205, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3753112

Noam Angrist (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Young 1ove Organisation ( email )

Gaborone
Botswana

Peter Bergman

Columbia University ( email )

Moitshepi Matsheng

Independent

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