Study Finds Washington State School Closure Policy Has Caused Lifelong Learning Loss and Damage » Publications » Washington Policy Center

School closures still possible despite evidence of lasting damage

SEATTLE- A new study revealing the extent of the damage inflicted on Washington state students as a result of the Inslee administration’s aggressive pandemic-related public school closure policy was released today by the Washington Policy Center ( WPC). The study notes evidence of a wide range of harms, some of which can last a lifetime, including loss of learning, loss of income and job opportunities, and damage to mental health.

The study details how, in June 2020, McKinsey and Company researchers warned that closing schools until January 2021 (seven months) would inflict on students “a wound that could last a lifetime”, particularly on students. low-income Hispanic and Black students, increasing achievement gaps by 15-20%. Washington schools have been closed for nearly two years. Low-income students have been badly hit, with 8,700 fewer students applying for state-funded college scholarships.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” notes study author Liv Finne, director of the WPC Education Center. “The closures have harmed students’ learning, many have suffered damage to their mental health, and reduced lifetime income and economic damage are a real possibility. For two years, these children have seen the damage s’ accumulate.”

Sobering results from the latest Smarter Balance status test (conducted November 2021) indicated widespread and significant learning loss. Over fifty percent of Washington students failed the English portion of the test and seventy percent failed the math portion. The results show a significant drop corresponding directly to the pandemic closures of in-person instruction.

“With these tests, we can measure and compare student achievement and systemic success or failure from year to year,” Finne explained, “Dismissing these test results will not erase the impact that COVID closure policy has had on the lives of these children. We need to recognize and prevent closures from happening again.”

Utah, Florida, Nebraska, Texas and many other states have safely reopened to in-person instruction in 2020, along with schools in 20 countries including Denmark, Britain, France , Japan and Finland. Sweden has kept primary schools open and has not seen a drop in reading comprehension scores compared to the pre-pandemic period. Although private and public charter schools are mostly opening to in-person instruction, Washington state was the 47th in the nation to reopen traditional public schools.

“Nationally, internationally, and within our state, there were examples we could have followed that showed students could go to school safely again, but systemic rigidity prevented that,” Finne said. When schools in Washington finally reopened in September 2021, students were automatically promoted to the next grade without any assessment of whether they had actually made progress in learning. “This decision extended social promotion to all 1.1 million children in public schools.” she concludes.

  • Rather than advancing students up a grade based on their actual learning gains, in 2021 education officials have essentially extended social advancement to all 1.1 million children. public schools.
  • Research shows many students have suffered long-term learning loss and psychological and emotional damage as a result of the governor’s extended school closure policy
  • State test results show that public schools have failed to adequately educate 70% of students in math and 52% of students in English.
  • Low-income students have been hardest hit, with 8,700 fewer students applying for state-funded college scholarships.
  • The researchers warned that closing schools would inflict “lifelong” harm on students, especially for low-income Hispanic and Black students, increasing achievement gaps by 15-20%.
  • Washington public schools received operating funding at the highest levels in history during the COVID crisis, despite school closures.
  • In June 2020, researchers at McKinsey and Company warned that two to nine percent of high school students would drop out and that US students could lose, on average, one year of full-time work in lifetime earnings as a result of COVID. -linking learning losses.
  • Researchers at Brown University found a 23% drop in IQ in very young children caused by mandatory mask and social distancing requirements.
  • The mandate policy that closed schools for the long term caused many children with special needs to regress and lose what they had learned in the past.
  • Isolating adolescents from social contact with their peers for nearly two years has increased their levels of anxiety and stress, issues that can persist with long-term consequences.


Achievement gap will widen due to school closures

Download a file Kids are going back to school and our state pretends no harm has been done

Download a file In Europe and elsewhere, they have prioritized student learning and saved their children from these pains

Download a file say a degree program is important, then finish it for two years and pretend it doesn’t matter

Download a file Harms have been suffered, especially among low-income and minority children

Download a file Students with special needs suffered the most



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